Lessons for IxDA from MeetUp?

25 Jan 2011 - 1:23pm
3 years ago
1 reply
2101 reads
Nickgould
2009

In this interview, Scott Heiferman of MeetUp.com discusses the company's decision to begin charging the meetup organizers a monthly fee to use the site. Although they knew that the change would cause consternation and probably drastically reduce usage, they felt that the risk was worth the benefit of 1) the creation of a revenue stream that was vital to their survival, and 2) improved overall quality of meetups which (they hoped) would be the result of a "pay filter" that retained only serious, committed organizers.  

In the end, MeetUp was shocked (perhaps naively) by the degree and intensity of the public outcry against the decision. Vocal site users were not only disappointed but hostile, accusatory, and downright mean. And, for good measure, usage of the site decreased by an alarming 95%. Over time, however, the hubbub died down, the freeloaders moved on, and now the site is profitable and the "success" of the meetups has increased to 50% from 1-2% when the site was free.

It's a fascinating story - and one which felt relevant to some of the discussions regarding the future of IxDA and whether we should consider some form of "pay filter" for membership. Any thoughts?

NB: I'm posting as myself and NOT as an IxDA board member. 

Nick

Comments

26 Jan 2011 - 4:05am
Adrian Howard
2005

Hi Nick,

On 25 Jan 2011, at 19:43, Nickgould wrote: [snip] > In the end, MeetUp was shocked (perhaps naively) by the degree and intensity of the public outcry against the decision. Vocal site users were not only disappointed but hostile, accusatory, and downright mean. And, for good measure, usage of the site decreased by an alarming 95%. Over time, however, the hubbub died down, the freeloaders moved on, and now the site is profitable and the "success" of the meetups has increased to 50% from 1-2% when the site was free.

I'm curious about the number of successful meetups before/after (scaled for internet growth) rather than the percentage. I'm also curious about the number of successful meetings immediately after the pricing change - was it just the flaky ones who left?

The charging is also not the only thing that has changed with Meetup over the last six years. The site usability & feature set has improved a fair bit in my opinion, and they've been much smarter about marketing, etc.

I'm just slightly sceptical of stories like this :-) The brave-decision-followed-by-success is a good story. It's often a bit more complicated when you look at things in more detail.

> It's a fascinating story - and one which felt relevant to some of the discussions regarding the future of IxDA and whether we should consider some form of "pay filter" for membership. Any thoughts?

Random thoughts:

  • Meetup dropped 95% of site usage. I've seen free->pay transitions lose 99%. How do we feel about an IxDA with 1000 members... or 200...

  • Meetup want to profitable - what's our motivation? What are we trying to fix and why do we think charging will fix it? (and can we look to other organisations with a pay model to check that they don't have those problems, or that they don't have different problems that are equally as troublesome)

  • What happened to that 95%. Was it just the failing/bad meetups that left? What happened to the good ones?

  • Was Meetup the only paid option? Did some users migrate to other paid systems? (If the IxDA starts charging fees for membership it's in a completely different market with new competitors.)

  • Meetup is not charging for membership. It charges for the ability to create meetings. Are there services that IxDA could charge members for? Would they solve any of the problems? (e.g. charging for nice profiles that recruiters search, making it easier for members to find work - random and probably rubbish idea but you get my drift.)

Also - there are free->pay stories that don't end so happily. For example consider Six Apart's change to the MT licensing in 2004. That caused a migration to WordPress by a stack of influential users. Now WordPress is the leader in that market by a long way...

Cheers,

Adrian

Syndicate content Get the feed