Entry Eight

mpm33A blog

Here is the research that I did on Scott Heiferman, the Ceo of meetup.com

In 2005, Scott received the Jane Addams Award from the “National Conference of Citizenship”
In 2004 M.I.T Technology Review awarded Scott ‘Innovator of the Year” for his work with Meetup

Scott Heiferman, co-founder and CEO of Meetup, a New York-based web start-up that facilitates in-person meetings for people with shared interests, says the idea for his company was spawned by September 11.
“When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors in the days after 9/11 than ever before,” he says in an e-mail statement. “People said hello to neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they’d normally ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each other, and meeting up with each other. A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring people together in a lasting way.”

Nine months later Heiferman launched Meetup, which now has almost 10 million users and 100,000 Meetup groups around the world. “Meetups aren’t about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it weren’t for 9/11,” he says.

He tells The Wall Street Journal that after reading the book Bowling Alone, he started “thinking about local communities in a new era.”

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community – by Robert D. Putnam
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000). In a groundbreaking book based on vast data, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures– and how we may reconnect.

I developed with a co-founder, was a company called Fotolog, now a social network that is big in South America. The other was Meetup, a way for people to self-organize locally. I pulled a team together and we started Meetup.com in 2002.
People have organized more than 200,000 monthly Meetups in more than 100 countries.


Q. What is your secret sauce?
A. If you told me eight years ago that we’d still be heads-down innovating here, I would have said you’re crazy; I don’t have that kind of attention span. But I’m more excited than ever. In January we plan three annoucements, including a radical way for businesses to connect with Meetups. So the secret sauce is we genuinely care and are excited about what we’re building. It’s also our perseverance on details, and a willingness to blow it up once in a while.

Q. What do you mean by ‘blow it up’?
A. For example, we went from free to fee five years ago; it was a bet-the-company moment. Everyone said we were crazy. At first we lost 90% of our activity because every Meetup required the organizer to pay for it. It was a quality filter as much as a revenue model. Now we’re much bigger than when we were free and it’s a sustainable, profitable business.

Q. What’s next: when will you sell or go public?
A. My dream—not speaking for my board, team or investors—is to build a great private, independent company. We’ve got a good thing going and want to keep building it, but I’m not ruling anything out.

When Heiferman initially thought of forming Meetup, he never had any idea how diverse the site’s user base would become. Suddenly groups of witches, pagans, ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses — and even supporters of political candidates — began popping up. This included a then-obscure Illinois state senator named Barack Obama, who had decided he was going to run for the United States Senate. Obama’s team wound up creating a website — with Meetup’s logo located on the side — where it was stated that he would be campaigning via meetups.

Meetup co-founder & CEO Scott Heiferman recently smashed an iPad on-stage with a sledgehammer. But why? “I love Apple, I love the Internet, I love screens,” says Heiferman. “I’m a little afraid that we’re getting, at least speaking for myself, way too addicted to the screen.”

Heiferman tells Dixon Facebook makes “great product (Dixon agrees) … it’s an elegant beautiful product and what else matters?” He then adds, “I don’t trust people in our industry who don’t use Facebook” saying “it’s the soul of how hundreds of millions of people are really experiencing their first time of participating online.” However, as the two round out their conversation Heiferman also expresses doubts that Facebook will maintain its dominance indefinitely.

Their discussion weaves into the topic of the singularity. Heiferman suggests that “the real singularity is when everyone on the planet has a phone and is connected and is on Facebook or however that social networking happens, and what gets unleashed when that happens, we can’t even imagine.”

President Obama wants to launch a new spirit of service and community.

In an unprecedented blitz against social awkwardness, Meetup.com and The Huffington Post have decided to hand out half a million name tags to the crowd at Inauguration. The name tags read “Hello, My Fellow American, My Name Is…” and attendees are to write-in their name, where they’re from, slap it on their coat in the cold, and have some conversations with Fellow Americans.


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