WeWork has confirmed that they are going to buy Meetup. Meetup is yet another purchase to their rapidly expanding rental startup roster. If you’re not familiar with, or you’ve never heard of Meetup, they help people do more of what they love by finding (and creating) communities based around the ideas and activities that matter to them. Meetups are formed around a common interest, goal or cause and they are made up of regular, face-to-face gatherings. According to the Meetups website, they help people:
- Do what they love
- Find others and make friends
- Get involved in local communities
- Learn, teach, and share
- Rise up, stand up, unite, and make a difference
- Be part of something bigger – both locally and globally
Meetup’s aim is to get people off the internet. They connect people through the internet, but they want you to meet them offline in order to do that activity that you love. Why did WeWork make this purchase? It doesn’t necessarily seem clear since WeWork is a company that provides workplaces for people needing physical space. They use technology in order to find office locations for people running small businesses, or startups etc. Think about these two companies for a moment. They are both using technology in order for people to find something they’re looking for. WeWork gives people a physical location to work from. Meetup helps people find people with similar interests. They’re filling a gap in the marketplace. Albeit, kind of a niche gap, but a gap nonetheless.
Meetup seems to want to help people feel more connected to other people and even their community. And while their goal is to get people away from using technology, in order to get there, you have to use technology. Now, let’s think about ways that WeWork would benefit from this acquisition. Even though WeWork has been adding locations extremely fast, the office space sector has a ton of competition. Which is why WeWork has aimed to distinguish themselves by offering an energetic work environment that appeals to millennials. Ergo, bringing people together who are in similar industries. Or with similar goals. What happens when you get a bunch of people together in one space, who have things in common? Well, they gradually get to know each other and then they spend time together after hours.
While WeWork’s main goal isn’t to help you make friends, it’s kind of an interesting side hustle that they’ve developed. Which is why this acquisition isn’t so far fetched. But let’s think about this from a social perspective. Isn’t this what Facebook is kind of doing? Originally kind of designed to help you reconnect with old friends, it’s now more of a way to connect with the world. Facebook is looking into how to build more “communities”. People gather in groups because they want to be around people who are similar to them. You can’t blame people for wanting this. So this idea of Meetup is kind of like an “in real life” version of Facebook, isn’t it?
That last sentence makes me laugh a bit. If you’ve ever watched the show The League, you may remember how the character, Taco, wanted to build an IRL social network known as MyFace. He pushed around some kind of bulletin board where he would periodically change his “status”, as he physically interacted with his friends. Maybe this isn’t quite like that, it does seem to be kind of revolutionary. You’re getting out of your house, physically, and maybe even out of your head. We live online so much these days, that this might be just what we need. And now it’s going to be available to us in a different way, thanks to WeWork.