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WeWork buys social network Meetup to bring more people to its spaces

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The coworking giant is at it again

WeWork WeiHei Lu Commons Shanghai, China
WeWork WeiHei Lu Commons Shanghai, China

WeWork’s empire is expanding—again. The well-funded multinational coworking company that’s also been opening gyms, schools, and coliving experiments just announced it has acquired Meetup, a 15-year-old social media network aimed at connecting people with similar interests (French! Data visualization! Pickup soccer!) in real life.

The deal makes sense. Meetup, which comprises a website and app, wants people to, well, meet up, and in a physical space. WeWork, with locations in over 23 U.S. cities and 21 countries, has those spaces.

Put another way, the simple graphic embedded below was created based on Meetup founder Scott Heiferman’s idea that his company stands at the intersection of cities and interests. WeWork’s some 10 million square feet of office space across many cities will come in handy.

For WeWork, the acquisition has both big-picture and nitty-gritty appeal. On one hand, the company now talks of using “technology to create new and innovative ways of building community.” This means opening up WeWork’s real estate to new people (Meetup has hundreds of thousands of organizers and millions of members) and uses beyond the realm of work. The more practical side is that by hosting these meetups—which are pretty much grownup extracurriculars—the company can better fill its spaces on nights and weekends, when they’re more underused.

Recently, there have also been reports of WeWork’s push into retail, involving experiments with concepts like furnished short-term leases and WeWork-managed retails spaces in its buildings. Given the prevalence and success of pop-up retail and the flexible nature of WeWork properties, it’s not a hard connection to draw. Stay tuned.