Meetup’s Network Effect will diminish

18 Oct 2019

Meetup wants (starting with beta testing) to stop the free network effect for the event hosts.

Let’s first analyze how Meetup’s network effect got built, who’s owns the network effect, and who should monetize.

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Meetup’s Network Effect:

Millions of Meetup organizers have unique power due to their own efforts in building their group, growing, and nurturing their members. Their offline connectivity, word-of-mouth, trust by members, and exceptional value from each group contributed to a massive network effect.

What is the Free Network Effect?

The Meetup’s Network effect is effectively a network built by the users for the users, hence creating a free ecosystem for more Meetup organizers to leverage. Millions of first-time organizers used this free network effect to bring members to their group.

But who owns the network data?

Who owns the Network data?

Meetup owns each group data by-design, i.e., when the organizer hosts group, they bring members, but Meetup doesn’t let organizer take data out of the system! This is a one-way road. As a group owner, forget any other extended data about a member, the organizer doesn’t even know member’s email id!

Therefore all your efforts in building your offline meetup network have no long-term value. Your Meetup ceases to exist the day you decided to switch or take away your community elsewhere. (oh yes, you can handover someone else to run, but that doesn’t alter the facts)

Who can monetize the Network?

Logically, as a group owner, you should able to monetize. And Meetup lets you collect fees (cash at the door), or you can use ticketing platforms like Explara Events, Eventbrite, Tito, and others to do so. That’s fair.

Meetup charges group owners to pay per month. That way, Meetup is monetizing its platform. That’s fair.

But as a group owner with 1000s of members, are you monetizing your network? You are not! Here are various ways you could have done, but Meetup’s business model doesn’t let you do:

  • Launch Membership (free or paid, recurring, one-time, annual, etc.)
  • Paid membership increases commitment to attend your event/meet, while free members can walk-in to attend and join as a paid member on an on-going basis
  • Host large-scale paid conferences using your meetup group, and without having to use yet another ticketing platform
  • Host free events for members & paid events for non-members
  • Grow your groups to other countries /cities under one brand and let the hosts pay you (like a franchise)
  • Promote partner event to your network for a fee

There are dozens of ways, and the above examples are to share ideas, not every meetup host might want to monetize. Most use to host their dev communities, interest, and activities too.

Why Meetup’s monetizing break trust?

The core thesis of Meetup: Group organizer drive member to Meetup <=> Meetup drive more users to Group organizer.

Meetup’s testing (beta launching) of pricing changes ($1 or $2 per month for each member) breaks the core thesis of the network, i.e., Group organizer has to pay to access the network effect, even if they bring their own members.

This is not fair.

And, this breaks the trust.

Meetup’s network effect will diminish from here on.