Our Newest Portfolio Company: Meetup

My partner Brad starts his post on our newest investment, Meetup, with a rumination on what’s causing the introspection that we in web investing land are going through. And he ends his thoughts on that topic with the following:

Two things will need to happen if the recent pace of innovation on the web is going to be sustained over the next few years. The next generation of services will need to have an impact on the real world and the real economy, not just an attention economy driven by self expression and discovery online. These new services will also need to reach real people, many of who use few if any web services today.

Brad is the big thinker at our firm and he’s been mulling over these changes he talks about since before we raised our new fund last winter. In his post announcing our new fund, Brad said the following:

All of this means that you will see subtle changes in the way we invest
our new fund. We will be even more selective about the early stage Web
services we back, looking for compelling differentiation, a discrete
market focus, and clear evidence of sustainable user growth. You will
also see us invest selectively in later stage opportunities that we
believe are poised to grow as more users become more dependent on the
Web to manage their daily lives.

Meetup is a perfect investment for our firm because it’s a company we know well and a service we use all the time. We have been wanting to invest in Meetup for years but we never could find the right entry point that worked for us and the company and its founders. We are so pleased that we’ve finally found it.

But there’s a lot more to our investment than simply "the right time this time". You can read Brad’s post for the whole story.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Bob Warfield

    Great story, and great timing on the part of your firm. It does feel like the punctuated equilibrium of the current Web 2.0 wave is giving way to a period of consolidation and retrenching. Focusing on deriving more than just attention and on an audience beyond the early adopters is a wonderfully focused way of describing how to succeed during this period.I’ve written quite a bit more on this topic on my blog: http://smoothspan.wordpress…Best Regards,BW

    1. gregorylent

      smoothspan is one of those sites where you have to log in to post, and the number of comments is usually zero … a gifted writer, wonderfully articulate thinker, a great blog, but don’t go there for conversation, i don’t think he has time for it… 🙂

  2. Ben Saren

    Fred, do you also see this investment as part of, what to me looks like, a broad hyper-local investment strategy?

    1. fredwilson

      We didn’t look at it that way but we are big fans of the local web

      1. John Maloney

        Nice investment, Fred. That’s the thing about local online: seems it’s right in front of us but not always so obvious. Meetup delivers local affinity online/offline groups – some large, some small – no question there’s greater opportunities to scale, monetize and package.

  3. gregorylent

    once at brad’s, once here, same post ..about the future flow … you are saying that unless money regains importance, things will slow down … okbut there is another shift coming, the realization that money does not measure value very well.there are subtle causes that indicate the flow of uncompensated innovation will continue to accelerate, and these are not quantifiable because they are qualitative … vc’s while valuable, come quite late in the process, when the subtle movements begin to take substance, but by then this flow is unstoppable.i understand your sentiments, but think they are limited. yes the giddy enthusiasm has passed, but innovation accelerates… investors will continue to find it, need it, eat of it, because this flow is not going to end.consciousness, and its expression, is more powerful than economics.

  4. jill Stern

    Wow! Lucky you–congrats!

  5. Liz

    I went to a “Working at MeetUp” MeetUp when I was considering a job there and it was really wonderful to hear all about the company before deciding whether I should apply for the position. They offered a great forum to learn about the history of the company, its history and be able to ask questions about working at MeetUp without the pressure of a job interview. Excellent HR outreach! And I think they hold these sessions at least once a month. I didn’t apply (many folks turned out who had a lot more experience than I) but they turned me into a MeetUp fan!

  6. Doug Kersten

    A no brainer…Meetup is excellent. They are a web startup that I love to look at whenever I want to understand how we should handle something…like when they first started to charge $9 a month to meetup organizers and the way that they handled the ensuing outcry. Also, their commitment to NYC Tech is great and the have helped many along the way…good job.Doug K.

  7. Robert Barr

    Great great story. “reach real people” is THE key. I think us propeller heads forget the number of people NOT using things like Twitter or Friend Feed, or who even know what a blog is! You can’t have wisdom from crowds if there is no crowd!

  8. kidmercury

    meetup is a cool service — it’s been a godsend in enabling the 9/11 Truth Movement to self-organize, a true example of the grassroots power of the web — though i wonder about marketing. i also wonder about their cost structure, and how they will deal with an inflationary depression that will hurt companies that aren’t lean enough (i.e. the vast majority of web startups).from my very distant perspective, i like outside.in a lot more. IMO they seem better positioned in every sense of the word with more marketable assets. though fred owns both, so i guess he wins either way!

  9. Mrinal

    There is a huge social disconnect online and offline and a growing social ‘deficit’ offline, imo (and as per the New York Times article – Will You Be My Neighbor).I see this making a difference – face to face (no pun intended)http://mrinal.vox.com/libra…

  10. Don Jones

    There seems to be a direct correlation between services that provide only attention benefits to users and a concomitant lack of monetization.

  11. Prakash

    Congratulations on your new investment!My interpretation of this line:”These new services will also need to reach real people, many of who use few if any web services today”is that these services reach people who are not just tech geeks and they will use this service to solve one or more of their problems.Right?

  12. Chang

    I think what perfectly fits Brad’s thoughts quoted – real solution for real people – is mobile (especially text-based) services. Even those who arent’ using web services carry their phones and know how to send/receive SMS’s.

    1. fredwilson


  13. csertoglu

    Congratulations! Great company.

  14. Eben Thurston

    Meetup is a great company. They’re an excellent example of continuous improvement. They do one thing, and do it better and better over time.

  15. thomas duffy

    anybody interested in a brazilian rum company they are looking for a commitment of 14m but only need 1.5 to get to a valuation of 10m . they have been open for 4 yrs and have won a ton of awards go to belezapura.com for more info i have a ppm and all the other documents