Meetup is a social media platform for hosting and organizing in-person and virtual activities, gatherings, and events for people and communities of similar interests, hobbies, and professions. It was founded in 2002 by Scott Heiferman and four others. The company was acquired by WeWork in 2017 and remains headquartered in New York City. WeWork sold it to AlleyCorp, an early stage NY-focused venture fund and incubator, in March 2020.
Type of site
|Social media, membership software|
|Available in||English-default, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Dutch, Thai, Russian and Turkish|
|Owner||AlleyCorp, an early stage venture fund and incubator|
|Industry||Communities Internet Social Media|
|Registration||Required to join a group|
|Launched||June 12, 2002|
Meetup was founded in June 2002 by Scott Heiferman and four co-founders. The idea for Meetup came from Heiferman meeting his neighbors in New York City for the first time after the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers. Heiferman was also influenced by the book Bowling Alone, which is about the deterioration of community in American culture. Some initial funding for the venture was raised from friends and family, which was followed by a funding round with angel investors.
The early version of Meetup generated revenues by charging a fee to venues in exchange for bringing Meetup users to their business. Once enough users added themselves to a group, Meetup would send the group members an email, asking them to vote on one of three sponsoring venues for the group to meet at. Within a few months of Meetup launching, 56,000 users had joined the site. In 2003 Meetup won the "Community Websites and Mobile Site" Webby Award.
Meetup was originally intended to focus on hobbies and interests, but it was popularized by Presidential hopeful Howard Dean in 2004. Meetup developed paid services to help the Dean campaign to meet with Meetup users. Dean also publicized Meetup groups of supporters in his speeches and on his website. At the peak of Dean's campaign, 143,000 users had joined Meetup groups for Dean supporters. Afterwards, Meetup became a routine part of internet campaigning for American politicians.
Meetup started charging a fee to group organizers in early 2005. Initially, changes to the website had to be approved by two committees. In 2009, Meetup started running hackathons, where employees came up with new features that would be implemented if their coworkers supported it. The website was redesigned in 2013. Meetup had 8 million users in 2010, and 25.5 million users by 2013.
In 2013, Meetup acquired a struggling email collaboration company called Dispatch. In 2014, a hacker shut down Meetup with a DDoS attack, the hacker claimed to be funded by a competitor. In 2017, Meetup created 1,000 #resist Meetup groups in response to the Trump travel ban. This caused some Trump supporters to leave the site or call for a boycott. Meetup also partnered with a labor group to organize anti-Trump protests.
Meetup was acquired by WeWork in late 2017 for about $156 million. WeWork spaces are predominantly used during work hours, while Meetup events take place mostly on evenings and weekends. Some former employees said there was a 10% layoff after the acquisition. In 2018, Scott Heiferman stepped down as CEO and former Investopedia CEO David Siegel took his place. Heiferman became Chairman of the company. In October 2019, Meetup began to test a different pricing model in two US states, reducing the costs that must be paid by organizers of $23.99/month or $98.94/six months, but requiring users to pay a $2 fee in order to RSVP for events, leaving several users angry. In March 2020, WeWork sold Meetup to AlleyCorp and other investors, reportedly at a substantial loss. The deal added AlleyCorp's Kevin P. Ryan onto Meetup's board.
Meetup is an online service used to create groups that host local in-person and virtual events. As of 2017, there are about 35 million Meetup users. Each user can be a member of multiple groups or RSVP for any number of events. Users are usually using the website to find friends, share a hobby, or for professional networking. Meetup users do not have "followers" or other direct connections with each other like on other social media sites.
Meetup users self-organize into groups. As of 2017, there are about 225,000 Meetup groups in 180 countries. Each group has a different topic, size, and rules. Groups are associated with one of 30+ categories and any number of more than 18,000 tags that identify the group's theme. The most popular categories are "adventure and outdoor activities, career and business, and parents and family." Most events are on a structured schedule each week or month at a local venue, typically on evenings or weekends, though more and more events are being held virtually with a pivot to allowing online events as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March and October 2020, Meetup had hosted more than one million online events.
Meetup groups are run by approximately 140,000 organizers. Any Meetup user can be an organizer. Organizers set up groups, organize events, and develop event content. They also pay a fee to run the group, under the expectation of sharing the cost with members that attend events. Meetup has policies against organizing meetups around a commercial interest that are not compatible with their usage policies, hate speech, or groups that do not meet in-person. Their policy regarding commercial activities has generated some confusion with some claiming that no commercial activities are allowed, even going so far as to claim that a free event that has a sponsor for food and drinks is against Meetup's policies. But purely commercial activities are allowed in their policy, as long as they are, in essence, a Meetup style activity. That is, a winery could organize a wine tasting event through Meetup charging commercial rates, but not use Meetup to simply promote their wines or only sales portal.
- Jeffries, Adrianne (January 21, 2011). "The Long and Curious History of Meetup.com". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- "Meetup company profile - Office locations, Competitors, Financials, Employees, Key People, News | Craft.co". craft.co. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
- Perez, Sarah (March 30, 2020). "WeWork sells off social network Meetup to AlleyCorp and other investors". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Sifry, Micah; CNN, Special to (November 7, 2011). "From Howard Dean to the tea party: The power of Meetup.com". CNN. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Cox, Jonathan (October 10, 2002). "Interest Grows in Raleigh, N.C., around Offline Social Gatherings". Knight Ridder Tribune Business News.
- Review, MIT Technology. "Innovator Under 35: Scott Heiferman, 32". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Evans, Teri (June 7, 2011). "Meetup's Scott Heiferman on Connecting Communities". Entrepreneur. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Benz, Kate (January 23, 2014). "Pittsburgh Meetup members use the Internet to get off the Internet". TribLIVE.com. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Ramanathan, Lavanya (October 13, 2011). "One week of Meetups". Washington Post. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Overfelt, Maggie (October 2003). "Taking America Offline". Fortune Small Business.
- Gordinier, J. (2008). X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking. Viking. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-670-01858-1. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Jeffries, Adrianne (January 21, 2011). "The Long and Curious History of Meetup.com". Observer. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Oliviero, Helena (November 25, 2002). "Web Site Links up Like Minds". The Atlanta Journal. p. E.1.
- Gilbert, Sarah (December 8, 2002). "I'm on the List: Virtual Communities: Not Just for Loners Anymore". The New York Post.
- "Meetup". The Webby Awards. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
- Toledano, Margalit; Maplesden, Alexander (May 24, 2016). "Facilitating community networks: Public relations skills and non-professional organizers". Public Relations Review. 42 (4): 713–722. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2016.04.005.
- Gray, Chris (February 11, 2004). "MeetUp.com Working to Become a Force in Local, State Politics". Knight Ridder Tribune. Archived from the original on November 9, 2018.
- "Candidates Hope Voters Meetup.com". Indianapolis Star. September 2003. p. B.1.
- Troise, Damian J. (February 6, 2015). "Meetup Starts Charging Fee in Effort to Keep Users Involved". Inc.com. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Taylor, Chris (May 6, 2009). "Meetup: An office where group anarchy works". CNNMoney. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Ong, Josh (September 12, 2013). "Meetup Simplifies Its Member Homepage As It Pursues A Unified Design". The Next Web. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Haupt, Angela (December 13, 2010). "Meetup.com Helps Connect Like-minded People". US News & World Report. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Lai, Chih-Hui; Katz, James E. (May 31, 2016). "Volunteer associations in the Internet age: Ecological approach to understanding collective action". The Information Society. 32 (4): 241–255. doi:10.1080/01972243.2016.1177761. ISSN 0197-2243. S2CID 45348475.
- Farr, Christina (October 9, 2013). "How meta! Meetup just acquired Dispatch, which got its start at a meetup". VentureBeat. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Perez, Sarah (October 9, 2013). "Meetup Makes Its First Acquisition With Dispatch, Will Roll Out Improved Messaging & Communications In Early 2014". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Colón, Marcos (March 3, 2014). "Meetup battles prolonged DDoS attack". SC Media US. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
- "Meetup.com takes risky leap into the Trump resistance". Associated Press. March 19, 2017. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Perez, Sarah (February 16, 2017). "Trump Supporters Boycott Meetup After Company Creates #Resist Groups, Makes its Politics Known". Techcrunch. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
- Hempel, Jessi (November 28, 2017). "WeWork is Buying Meetup Amid an Increasingly Disconnected World". WIRED. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Hufford, Austen (November 28, 2017). "WeWork to Buy Meetup, Targeting Off-Hours Gatherings". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Conger, Kate (February 16, 2018). "The Mess at Meetup". Gizmodo. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
- "Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman moves into chairman role". TechCrunch. July 17, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- "WeWork-owned Meetup brings on David Siegel as CEO". TechCrunch. October 30, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- Siegel, David. "Payment test update". www.meetup.com. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
- Deahl, Dani (2019-10-15). "Meetup wants to charge users $2 just to RSVP for events — and some are furious". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
- "WeWork sells off social network Meetup to AlleyCorp and other investors".
- Weinberg, Bruce; Williams, Christine (July–September 2006). "The 2004 US Presidential campaign: Impact of hybrid offline and online 'meetup' communities". Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice. 8 (1): 46–57. doi:10.1057/palgrave.dddmp.4340552.
- Toledano, Margalit (2017). "Emergent methods: Using netnography in public relations research". Public Relations Review. 43 (3): 597–604. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.03.007. ISSN 0363-8111.
- Vynck, Gerrit De (November 28, 2017). "WeWork Buys Meetup to Bring People Together Outside of Work". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Zhang, Shuo; Lv, Qin (2018). "Hybrid EGU-based group event participation prediction in event-based social networks". Knowledge-Based Systems. 143: 19–29. doi:10.1016/j.knosys.2017.12.002. ISSN 0950-7051.
- "One Million Meetup Events Hosted Online".