“It’s like a magical puzzle that fits together,” said Scott Heiferman, the chief executive and a co-founder of Meetup.
Meetup members organize on average about 15,000 gatherings a day, according to the company.
Over the last few years, Mr. Heiferman said, the event organizing service had at least broken even and had not taken in outside money in years. But the company believed that to grow — and especially to do so abroad — it needed to again bring in investors.
The process of raising money eventually led to conversations about selling Meetup altogether. The company’s general counsel, David Pashman, had a relationship with a senior WeWork executive and suggested the two businesses talk.
In August, Mr. Heiferman met with WeWork’s chief executive, Adam Neumann, and the two quickly came to believe that uniting the two companies made sense. WeWork’s roughly 10 million square feet of leased office space, spread out over more than 170 locations in 16 countries, is used primarily during the day. By contrast, meetups happen primarily outside of working hours.
WeWork could especially help in promoting Meetup abroad, given its growing overseas presence.
Already, roughly 100,000 people have attended a Meetup gathering at a WeWork location, according to the companies.
“You need a proper community space for that,” Mr. Heiferman said. “You can’t have a musty church basement or whatever space people used in the old days.”
But Shiva Rajaraman, WeWork’s chief product officer, said that the deal was done for a bigger reason: to help instill a sense of broader community in the company’s spaces.
“It’s less about utilization and much more about that fundamental mission of connecting people to their purpose,” Mr. Rajaraman said. “This is a great tool to introduce people to their passions.”
Meetup will continue to operate as it has, Mr. Heiferman said. He added that the ideal operating model would be something like how Instagram functions within Facebook, or Zappos within Amazon. (Zappos’s chief executive, Tony Hsieh, is on Meetup’s board.)
“We’re going to be a core part of WeWork,” Mr. Heiferman said. “There’s a really great culture that we’re proud to be a part of.”
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