I remember at our first USV Sessions event in the summer of 2006 Scott Heiferman stated that he wanted to spend 20 years building a company that would “last.” This was in an era of quick flips where many entrepreneurs wanted to build and sell as quickly as possible. I was impressed by that long term perspective and told my partner Brad that we should see if we could invest in Scott’s company Meetup.
We did invest in Meetup shortly after that, Brad joined the board, and we have been investors in Meetup for the past ten years.
Meetup launched in June 2002, fifteen years ago. Over those 15 years Meetup has become synonymous with the idea of community being an in person thing.
Community on the Internet is easy but prone to a lot of bad behavior. Community in person is harder but works better. Humans tend to be more interesting and more decent in person.
And with the ever increasing encroachment of digital devices into our daily/hourly/constant existence, taking the time to sit down face to face with other people is more important than ever.
Meetup, like its NYC community peers Etsy and Kickstarter, has been profitable since its earliest days. As Scott said in the Wired piece “Our number one priority was independence and to live within our means.” That has meant always balancing growth and profitability, like most businesses do.
But on the Internet, particularly now in the age of winner take most, it is hard to balance profitability and growth and very few companies do.
So Meetup decided to do something this year that it had not done in a decade, since USV invested in 2007. Scott went out and talked to investors about investing in more growth. That led to “offers from what Heiferman calls the usual suspects.”
The most interesting of the offers came from WeWork which is building another in-person network, maybe the largest in-person network of scale on the Internet. It seems like such a perfect match. And so Meetup is joining forces with WeWork who will aggressively invest in Meetup to help it scale to reach even more people who want to engage in live in person conversations.
And Scott is going to continue to lead Meetup inside of WeWork meaning he will likely achieve his goal of working on Meetup for 20 years or more.
It is always bittersweet to see a company as important as Meetup leave the USV network. But we agree with Scott that this is the right thing for Meetup and WeWork and we are enthusiastic about the potential of this combination.