Meetup, the social networking platform designed to connect people in person, is being spun out from shared office space provider WeWork, the company confirmed on Monday. The site is being sold to AlleyCorp and other private investors for an undisclosed sum, but one that’s reportedly far less than the $156 million acquisition price WeWork paid for the social network back in 2017.
Meetup, which has operated for two-and-a-half years as a WeWork subsidiary, will divest itself from its parent company and continue to operate, it says. The site today serves 49 million registered members and more than 230,000 organizers who create an average of 15,000 in-person events per day.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Meetup had been struggling. The company in November announced a round of layoffs amid other cost-cutting measures. And these had followed earlier cuts of 10% of staff during acquisition negotiations.
With the COVID-19 pandemic now in full force, fewer people than ever are willing and able to meet in-person, leading to Meetup to position itself today as a place for groups to meet “online during times of crisis,” its release said. That remains to be seen.
The investor groups in Meetup’s latest acquisition are led by Kevin Ryan’s AlleyCorp and also include other “mission-driven private funds” and “accomplished technology executives,” the company claims.
The deal will see Ryan joining Meetup as chairman of the Board. David Siegel will remain Meetup CEO and board member, and will continue to lead the company.
Meetup groups will continue to operate, as will Meetup’s enterprise business solution, Meetup Pro, which has been used by over 1,500 clients to date, including Adobe, Google, Microsoft Azure, IBM, Twitter and Looker, among others.
“This acquisition provides the long-term capital to ensure that Meetup focuses on what is most important: the organizers who make Meetup successful, our passionate members, and our dedicated employees,” said David Siegel, CEO of Meetup, in a statement. “We are excited to continue on our mission of empowering personal growth through real human connections, and I’m happy to have brought in a team of smart investors who share and support the same values,” he said.
It’s unclear, however, what the future holds for Meetup. Though the government lockdown policies may eventually end, consumers’ appetite for getting together in real-life groups with people they first met online may not be as strong as it was before. Meetup may have to shift more of its focus to supporting online-only groups — a market that’s today dominated by Facebook Groups, or niche apps catering to specific categories, like Peanut for moms or Nextdoor for neighbors, for instance.
“We are confident in the enormous potential of the business and Meetup’s mission of bringing people together in substantive ways,” said AlleyCorp’s Ryan, in a statement. “We are very excited to collectively serve and grow Meetup’s extensive and incredibly engaged user base.”