Relaunching At Age Fourteen

Our portfolio company Meetup was launched in June of 2002. We invested five years later, in 2007, when the company was already profitable and was approaching double digit revenues. Nine years later they are 3x the size when we invested in revenues, meetups, and more. But the founder and leaders of Meetup feel like they are just beginning to scratch the surface of their mission which is to get people out of the house and into the real world doing things they enjoy with other like minded people.

This video, which they created as part of their re-launch this week, shows the range of things people use Meetup to do with others:

Many people associate Meetup with night time events where people with name tags on them walk around and introduce themselves to others. Those sorts of things happen on Meetup for sure. But the more common uses are runners using Meetup to schedule group runs, moms using Meetup to hang out with other moms, and, apparently, jugglers using Meetup to juggle together.

So Meetup is relaunching the Company this week, fourteen and a quarter years after its initial launch. This means a new logo (the name badge is gone), new mobile apps that use deep learning to understand what you want to do and encourage you to do more of it, a new team (with women leaders in both product and engineering) with lots of new engineers and data scientists, and a sharper focus on marketing.

If you want to see what the new Meetup is all about, download the new app (iOS and Android) and check it out. Maybe you will find yourself juggling in the park this weekend. I sure hope so.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    …if a twitter interest graph and a multi-player version of Foursquare had a baby…

    1. fredwilson

      All USV portfolio companies.

  2. William Mougayar

    The deep learning on understanding interests and suggesting meetups that match is a valuable feature. Are they using Clarifai by any chance?

    1. fredwilson

      Not that I know of

  3. Joe Lazarus

    Always loved the service. Never loved the branding. Looks fresh!

  4. jason wright

    meetup grows up…slowly. is 3x in nine years an attractive growth rate for a VC fund?

    1. Jess Bachman

      What do you think?

      1. jason wright

        By my question you know what I think. x3 is a first base success, but nine years is too long.

  5. Twain Twain

    LOOOOOOOOOVE Meetup and had no idea it was a USV investment.Through Meetup I got into hiking around Bay Area and other social events and made friends. It’s not easy to go out of your comfort zones to a new city and Meetup is a great tool for helping you quickly meet people with similar interests in purposeful ways that, for example, Twitter doesn’t.It’s also super-useful for attending tech talks and speakers are great about linking to source materials.That’s how I’ve learnt so much about loads of things!

    1. Cam MacRae

      It really is brilliant when you relocate, isn’t it?! I’ve used it in a few cities now.

      1. Twain Twain

        Yep. I arrived in SF knowing 1 person (a female engineer I met at IBM Watson’s first-ever developer event the year before).Through Meetup, I made friends with artists, architects, HR folks, teachers, social landscaping managers responsible for the trees in Presidio Park (!), scientists, chefs, fashion students … and other techies.Some friends I made through Meetup have suggested I create a Foodies Meetup where we go to a different neighborhood and have breakfast, lunch and dinner in that neighborhood of a Sunday.LOL, just my type of thing!

        1. Cam MacRae

          Sounds fantastic. I’ve mostly used it for photography, hiking, and language meetups. One day I’ll have to come to your Foodies Meetup.

  6. feargallkenny

    I never thought about Meetup as a place to find fellow runners or bikers but I do think there is a gap that both Strava and Mapmyfitness haven’t filled yet. Both services know where you ride/run, what time you start at and the speed you go at but don’t suggest compatible workout partners that live near you and work out at similar times. You can create a group and follow people but they don’t go that extra mile (pun intended) and there is an interesting opportunity there that I would take advantage of – at least for biking.

  7. Matt Zagaja

    I remember learning about Meetup during Howard Dean’s meteoric rise (and then fall) in 2004. In Connecticut an upstart candidate by the name of Ned Lamont later followed in his footsteps organizing his campaign events there. Meetup dented the political universe, but it’s home is most certainly in technology where it has provided the place where technology professionals look for events to congregate at. We use it at Code for Boston and in New Haven we used it to organize hackathons. My sense is the meetup yield is higher than other forms of event organizing platforms, but I do not have stats. There is something special in the sauce over there.That being said if I was having a clarifai meetup hackathon I’d probably build a camera that does face detection to automatically check in meetup participants for greater analytics. People will RSVP to events, etc. but a lot of times the work to actually check people in doesn’t occur.

  8. Kurt Stangl

    Congratulations on the launch! This space has never been properly tamed. Can’t wait to see the new app!

  9. Timothy Meade

    Wow, so often companies will get into niches (or perceived niches) and never get out of the local maximums they entail. Meetup was a known entity, it did badgey meetups. That was what the branding said loud and clear. But that’s not what the userbase was actually using it for.For many companies that would be it, a tired, old, well-defined place that didn’t really look alive but served its purpose once or twice a month.Anyway, for a feature idea: it would be nice to get an idea on where the meetings should be held based on the addresses of the regular attendees. There is a Columbus Rust Meetup, but it’s a bit of a drive for me. Let’s say the organizers found out that a lot of the people were clustered around Akron instead, should they consider moving the location of at least some of the meetings?Looking forward to trying the new app.

  10. Jess Bachman

    I have a lot of respect for meetup. I think its hugely important to engage in meat-space connections and I wish there were more tech companies (besides dating) in that space.I’ve always felt like Meetup could or should be bigger than they are, and I’m not sure why they aren’t. Maybe because there is a threshold for group size before it can be viable on meetup. I dunno.Howver, this video is pretty terrible. If I am supposed to look at the new features on the right side of the screen… then why do they keep drawing my attention to the left!! It’s dancible tho. +1

  11. panterosa,

    Do what you love, with others who love it to…..passion, connection, intimacy, exploration, growth…..MeetUp as mobile oxytocin! #awesome

  12. DJL

    Very cool. I get about 10 new Meetup notifications a week in Houston. Killing the name badge is a fantastic idea. (Of course, I had no idea it was a USV company. And I’m not sure how they make money?) I hope I receive an email that says “You thought we were just meetings? Look at all the cool new things you can do with Meetup”

    1. fredwilson

      Meetup organizers pay a monthly fee to use the platform

      1. DJL

        It would be awesome if they had a “channel” approach to get schools and churches to use the platform. (They probably do.) My kids schools have tons of random meetings and have no platform. Even in our area, the use of technology by public schools is dismal.

        1. LE

          Agree. I would think that the bus dev department would or is all over this seems to be obvious to me. Would be surprised if they aren’t.

  13. aneela

    great to hear! I’ve become overwhelmed by all the meetups I’ve subscribed too & their app notifications…there’s almost tooo much to do. I most certainly ascribed to the “meetup is for professionals” mentality, but love that their niche is more casual. I’m excited to check out the design and swap some tech/startup meetups for some juggling!

  14. cavepainting

    Meetup was the very first and original online-to-offline company. Way before Uber, Lyft, Tinder and everyone else. They help humans get off their couches and into the real world to connect with other humans.Based on what’s available in the public domain, they seem to have raised around ~$18.3M. They were estimated to be at $30 M revenue 5 years back, and at 15% CAGR, they are probably around $60M today. That would put them at a valuation in the $300-400 M range with a 5-7x subscription revenue multiple. If the EBITDA is positive, it may be higher.That looks like a good return (on paper) for the early investors.Yet, this could have been valued in the billions of dollars if they had expanded into other online-to-offline markets directly in the path of spending.I do wonder if they ever considered diversifying into markets that involved helping buyers and sellers discover and transact with each other. But that would have involved raising a lot more money and building a different kind of a company.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      They were pioneers in many ways. I think they loss some visibility during the market transition, and probably their own, to mobile. I am glad they are on the spotlight again.The market has been moving from self into groups.

    2. JLM

      .Well played on the analysis.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. Vasudev Ram

      >I do wonder if they ever considered diversifying into markets that involved helping buyers and sellers discover and transact with each other.Sounds like a potentially good business idea. Were you thinking they could do it online, offline, or both?

      1. cavepainting

        Meetup helps people use an online tool to go out and connect in the real world. “Connecting” could be for interest groups, but it could also be for other things like finding business partners, finding suppliers for specific jobs to be done, etc. Each of these is its own market though and they would have to carefully analyze their customer base to understand which of their other needs can they address effectively.Their brand is too tied to this notion of arranging meet-ups around interests, and it may not be that easy to do something else, unless it is very well thought through and a natural extension. If it is something very new, but disconnected from their customer profile, it is pretty much like a new startup.

  15. Aashay Mody

    Love the app redesign, overall makes it appear more welcoming and less formal.I’ve been a big fan of Meetup and its what allowed me to kickstart my transition into tech by attending and eventually organizing interesting events. Also has some great soccer meetups!

  16. Hu Man

    What a great mission! I use it, but not enough. Thank you for funding it.

  17. JLM

    .Huuuuuge fan of Meetup. I belong to three writers’ groups in the ATX and go to one in SBS (not a member). They are excellent.Don’t get the new logo. Seems very amateurish and graphically wandering. No grounding. The old logo anchored the purpose. I think the new logo is awful.The video doesn’t actually contain a call to action. With 14 years under your belt, seems like some earthy testimonials would be more useful. There is not a single person younger than 30 in any of the 4 Meetups I attend and this video doesn’t seem to put out the welcome mat for that demographic.I think Meetup could broaden their revenue stream in a meaningful manner. I would gladly pay a monthly cost to belong to Meetup over and above what I spend to belong to a specific group. Sort of like a cost to get a seat on the exchange.Right now I pay $2/mtg for one group and $5/mtg for another. These groups both meet twice a month.I agree that Meetup is still at the start line. I am contemplating moving to Savannah (maybe just buying a house there, the real estate is dirt cheap) and one of the first things I did before I got serious was to check the speed of the local Internet connections and whether there were any writers’ groups on Meetup.This convo today gave me an idea for a Meetup that I should start when I get back to ATX.Huuuuuuge fan.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      Agree with comments on both the logo and video. Something I would have said but was trying not to be negative.Just as I get out, you pull me back in.This logo is a matter of taste and I guess we have the same taste (but not with cars or women Melania is not my type, Huma is though).I don’t find the video appealing but then again I am not the target market but you apparently are.The website is pretty well done.I would have loved to sit in on the pitch meeting for the video though.I think Meetup could further monetize by selling things to people who attend and/or create these groups by extending the brand. Maybe they are doing this already like I said I have never gone to a meetup (and have no plans to).

      1. JLM

        .The logo is just a bad design. Poorly conceived and poorly executed. The video does not contain a call to action. The website’s appearance and performance is excellent.I think they have a huge opportunity to monetize the size of the audience by simply creating a conduit — take USAA, as an example, they can provide to me a huge discount on hotels by just using my USAA Visa card. As a result I am a titanium Hilton honors member and likely stay in a Hilton 30 nights per year.Meetup should be able to drive some enormous affinity groups as it has such a target rich, identifiable base of customers.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. LE

          So we agree lots they can do with their groups.Here are the stats including what appears to be many of those who work there. (I live the new school of laying out all of your employees for easy poaching btw. It’s like the first company did that mid 90’s and everyone just followed as if ‘that’s they way to do it’): groups, 27m members, 603k meetups. Put a bone in that and you can make a meal for sure.Speaking of USAA their commercials are decent I love it when the guy says “they still call me gunnery Sargent”.I am wondering if any of meetups board members understands marketing enough to intuitively know what they could or should be doing here.I think that web businesses are just baked into this mode of “build it and they will come and if they don’t the idea should just idle at it’s own pace”. Not like old school where you had to beat your brains against the wall to make people use the mousetrap that you built.My feeling is the purpose of the spruce up could be to position it better for acquisition actually. Kind of like renovating an older property.

        2. LE

          My other thought is that the existing workforce at Meetup has been there for some time (I think). So they are getting a bit complacent and stale just coasting along. It’s getting boring for them. Has been for years. Perhaps they need to push some people out (what a buyer would do) and get some excited blood in there. I am sure they aren’t cutting 10% a year. It’s almost to easy for them with the model humming along.I always wondered when that would happen to companies started with young people who eventually got older, kids and kind of lost the umph that they had way back. The ones that didn’t grow from some other driver (like google). They become like GM fat and lazy.

    2. kidmercury

      i get the aversion to the name tag logo and the desire for change. name tags seem a bit anachronistic for a company centered around internet-enabled introductions, and the western world is familiar enough with online to offline engagement now that such conventions may not have enough communication utility.

  18. kirklove

    Nice. Big congrats to Scott, Fiona, and team. Lot of work for a great platform.

  19. Jordan Thaeler

    “Our portfolio company Meetup was launched in June of 2002. We invested five years later, in 2007, when the company was already profitable and was approaching double digit revenues.” Nope, VC certainly isn’t growth equity at all.

  20. andrewparker

    I love this new approach, and I’m really rooting for meetup.I remember a USV Portfolio Summit where I was seated at a lunch table with Scott and a half dozen other USV CEOs. It was probably around ’08 or ’09. Scott told the table that he would run meetup for the next 20 years. The conviction with which he said that statement, plus the length of time, ended up being the conversation around the table for the rest of the meal. The long term thinking made an impression on me.

  21. Keenan

    Brilliant, I’m gonna us Meet Up now for a Skiing, see if we can create some good ski groups in Vail. Thanks Fred. 😉

  22. ChloeJean

    MeetUp is great – while unemployed it allowed me to find some mutual interest groups and thru those I made great friends – and even tho I am back to work, I still join in when I can & value those friendships. And yes, one of our groups actually uses the name tags which is a nice way to make an instant connection with someone. I’m just not quite sure I understand the new logo – looks like bloodsplatter and spooky script written in blood. ewwww

  23. JimHirshfield

    How so? You date jugglers?

  24. fredwilson


  25. Jess Bachman

    Personally, I find them too much to handle.

  26. LE

    Catfish. I wonder if anyone running meetups ever games or jump starts things by posting faux attractive attendees (ala Ashley Madison) who don’t show up.

  27. Mac

    Note to self: park meetups = jugglers = dates. Thanks!

  28. Banet

    Well, they had ~50 employees in 2007 and they have ~150 now. So it seems their revenue is growing right in line with all their major costs (salary and rent). I imagine that if they’re profitable, they’re barely so.Fred, how does this work with your investors in that fund? The fund has to be near its close date… do all the investors get shares in illiquid Meetup?

  29. fredwilson

    Never been in the red to my knowledge since we invested

  30. JimHirshfield

    I was sure you felt the opposite given how well they handle balls

  31. Jess Bachman

    Jim please, this is a family blog.

  32. JimHirshfield

    Sorry you feel like I dropped the ball

  33. fredwilson

    Me too. Let’s do a Meetup Fan meetup 😉

  34. Drew Meyers

    I’m a fan too. They put people together face to face. There’s nothing better than that imho.We very much view my own startup, (airbnb/couchsurfing within trusted networks), as a “pre meetup” tool. Most people will never go to a meetup unless they have a friend or a couple friends who are also going. We want to help you connect, and meet, people in the communities you belong to who live/are near you — once that happens, it becomes exponentially more likely you’ll actually go to a bigger group event since you know you won’t be standing in a corner by yourself.In fact, we think the best business model for Horizon is the same as meetup’s — getting community builders onto a subscription to use the product to increase engagement with their community (aka put people together in the real world).There is a AVC group on the app already, group unlock code: avcinsider

  35. LE

    You should organize or sponsor bread baking meetups in any city that you sell your bread. Just last night my wife took my daughter to a “meet up” to learn to bake challah (was for several hours not sure it was actually on meetup but it was a meet up). Or as a twist organic foods “sponsored by” etc.Actually this could potentially be done in the supermarket I am guessing potentially. If not, in any local space with a small kitchen. High school etc. Hard to imagine this wouldn’t add to your brand and/or sales. Pay someone to run the meetup a small fee.After taking a quick look at meetup (hadn’t been there in years) I saw there are people who appear to have commercial angles to the meetups that are held.

  36. JLM

    .Agreeing with you more than I agree with myself.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  37. fredwilson

    We are patient investors. I am on the board of a company I invested in in 2000

  38. jason wright


  39. Banet

    Except it was not a 2007 fund that invested in 2007. It was a 2093 fund I believe. So the 10 years plus both extensions have come and gone.So I don’t think there’s much time to find a buyer. And really, who would want to buy a 14 year old company that’s only break even? If it was going to grow it’s had all the time in the world, no?I’m not putting Meetup down — I love it. I’m just curious as to how the mechanics of handling the illiquid investment works.

  40. Banet

    Fred, you’re patient but what about everyone else who put money in your fund? How do they get paid after 12 years go by? That’s all I’m asking.(And I bet that 2000 investment was my friend’s company, ReturnPath. Matt got me my start in the NYC tech scene.)

  41. Banet

    They likely took the money to grow faster. Never having been in the red isn’t the same as rolling in cash to handle big expansions like a push into iOS and Android.

  42. LE

    And really, who would want to buy a 14 year old company that’s only break even?Someone who thinks they can use what is there and make it better or improve on it that’s who. Through some type of synergy with existing products or services..Doesn’t seem a stretch considering the amount of people that they come in contact with closely on a daily basis.

  43. Lawrence Brass

    Forgive my ignorance of capital management, but for a case like this, can’t you just move or swap investments between funds so that the investment fit better the ‘fund category’, specially if you are betting on a relaunch?On black for many years tells you are dealing with a good and balanced group of people, at least that is how I see it.

  44. LE

    You do the first few and then recruit from there. Then you have those that you recruit identify others.

  45. LE

    By the way senior places are always bringing in people to provide entertainment for the elders. They do this at my mom’s place which is located right next to a Whole Foods in PA. Can see baking bread as something they would attend. They need things literally every day going on and I am guessing want a nice variety (not all investment advisers in other words).I think I mentioned that my brother in law the opera singer was paid $1000 to sing for 3 hours at another high end place in NJ.Then you get the local small paper to do a story so you provide them with pictures of the event and a short evergreen writeup which they can use to fill space.

  46. jason wright


  47. Richard

    Private Equity companies do this all day long.