(Founder Stories) Meetup’s Heiferman: Working At McDonald’s & The Future Of Social Networks

Meetup co-founder and CEO, Scott Heiferman is Chris Dixon’s guest in this episode of Founder Stories. A serial entrenepenur, Heiferman tells Dixon he started “the first online ad agency in ’94” after corporate America left him unsatisfied. Called i-traffic, “the idea was to be an online media buying agency even though there wasn’t any media to buy at the time.” Five years later Heiferman sold i-traffic to Agency.com.

Following the exit, Heiferman was unsettled and says he “went a little bit crazy not knowing what I wanted to do with my life.” Heiferman took a job at McDonald’s—a move he credits to the company he was keeping. “I was hanging around with too many lawyers and accountants and at the time I just wanted to see what it was like to be a part of an actual real business.”

After flipping burgers Heiferman jumped back into the startup scene with RocketBoard, a project he describes as “a colossal failure and actually we blew through about $20 million dollars of AOL money.” The silver lining? Heiferman received advice that sticks with him to this day—create products to help the greater good of society.

Resuming their conversation below, Heiferman discusses Fotolog, a company he launched just prior to founding Meetup. Heiferman started the photo sharing site in 2002 and says “it became the number one social network” in several countries. It eventually sold for millions of dollars. However, Heiferman notes Fotolog’s top status eroded when Flickr hit the web and it made Heiferman realize that no company is totally secure against competition.

Lesson learned, Heiferman tells Dixon “I don’t think you can take for granted that any social network is going to be here 10 years from now.”

Make sure to listen to both clips for additional insights, including what Dixon observed while delivering pizza.

Past episodes of Founder Stories are here.