(Bloomberg) --WeWork Cos., known for bringing people together in common spaces to work or even live, is buying Meetup Inc., which uses the internet to help people connect in the real world.
The deal is the latest in New York-based WeWork’s drive to multiply the ways it can use its hip co-working spaces around the world and find new ways to grow revenue and justify its nearly $20 billion valuation.
WeWork has been on an acquisition spree this year, buying smaller startups including Singapore-based co-working company Spacemob, computer coding academy The Flatiron School and investing in fast-growing women’s-only social club The Wing. It’s even testing a private elementary school for kindergartners in one of its New York locations.
“A lot of people say ‘Oh my gosh they’re growing too fast, they’re acquiring all these different things,”’ said Scott Belsky, a venture partner at Benchmark Capital and an investor in Meetup. “Meetup makes sense, it might be one of the acquisitions that makes the most sense.” Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.
WeWork already hosts thousands of people for “meetups” every year, WeWork Chief Executive Officer Adam Neumann said in a blog post. “By joining our companies together we can accomplish even more,” he said.
Meetup’s Chief Executive Officer Scott Heiferman co-founded the company in 2002 to bring people together in real life in an increasingly online world. “If you think about it there is only one other significant entrepreneur in our generation that’s saying the same thing, and it’s Adam Neumann,” Belsky said. “It’s very complementary in that way.”
Meetup, also based in New York, has long shunned taking on excessive amounts of venture capital, raising only about $18 million to date, according to private tech company database Crunchbase. It hosts more than 500,000 meetups every month in over 180 countries, focusing on everything from rock climbing and French lessons to support groups for cancer survivors.
Meetup’s 35 million members mostly get together on weeknights and weekends, the company said. WeWork, meanwhile, has 10 million square feet of space in 17 countries that’s mostly occupied on weekdays.
“WeWork has space for community, and Meetup needs space for community. Voila!” Meetup said in a statement on its website.
For WeWork, the deal adds a new dimension to its growing brand. The company, which started out providing professional office space for freelancers and independent workers, wants to parlay its success with co-working into a “We” lifestyle brand that incorporates not just work but also living and wellness for community-minded people. WeWork also now has WeLive buildings, where young professionals can share housing, and is targeting the next generation of potential clients with its elementary school pilot program.
In a move reflecting its ambitions, WeWork recently bought the Lord & Taylor building in New York to serve as its future global headquarters.