It’s All About Dealing With The Ups & Downs in Business, Baby!

David Siegel is the CEO of Meetup, the largest platform for finding and building local communities. He has 25 years of experience as a technology and digital media executive, leading organizations through innovative product development, rapid revenue growth, and digital traffic acceleration. Prior to joining Meetup, David was CEO of Investopedia and, before that, President of Seeking Alpha. David holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics & Economics and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, teaching strategic planning and entrepreneurship. He is the author of Decide & Conquers 44 Decisions That Make or Break All Leaders and hosts the podcast Keep Connected, which is dedicated to the power of community.

The Main Questions of the Interview

#1 – David, What were some main changes you have faced connected to becoming the CEO of Meetup and moving the company forward?

#2 – Obviously, David, a lot of people listening and watching this interview know that WeWork owned Meetup and that “Adam Neumann” hired you, so looking back, what are some of your personal insights on working with Adam?

#3- We have just gone through one of the most dramatic economic periods connected to Covid 19; what have been some of the critical things you have learned being CEO of Meetup during this period that you like to share with the audience?

#4 – it looks like many people in leadership roles will be facing difficult times in the next 12 to 18 months, especially in the start-up community. Have you got any advice for them?

#5 – It seems to me that we face a significant economic, political, and environmental reflection point. Would you agree with this statement, and if yes, what do you feel have been a couple of significant factors that have got us into this situation.

#6 – David, would you like to share with the audience on a significant challenge you have faced career-wise or personally, and how did you overcome this challenge?

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Episode Transcript

Length: 35:39

(00:00)

Intro: Welcome to the WP-Tonic this week in WordPress and SaaS podcast, where Jonathan Denwood interviews the leading experts in WordPress, eLearning, and online marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SaaS.

(00:14)

Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back to the WP-Tonic Show this week in WordPress and SaaS. This is episode 711, we have a great guest, and I’ve been pumped up. I think it will be one of our best interviews this year; I’m just putting a little bit of pressure on our guests.

(00:33)

David Siegel: Serious pressure. Whoo.

(00:35)

Jonathan Denwood: [Inaudible – 00:34] pressure, you are used to it, David. We have David Seagal, the CEO of Meetup, with us. We’re going to be talking about all things about leadership, his experience dealing with Meetup, and a few other interesting people he’s had the pleasure of working with and dealing with. So, David, can you give us a quick 10, 15 seconds intro?

(01:02)

David Siegel: Sure. My name is David Siegel; I am the CEO of Meetup. Meetup is the world’s largest platform for finding and building community, and I happen to also have just written a book called ‘Decide and Conquer: 44 Decisions That Make or Break all Leaders.’ That was probably nine seconds, so, hopefully, I stayed within time.

(01:20)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, that’s great. And I have my co-host, Andrew Palmer.

(01:25)

Andrew Palmer: Andrew Palmer, from thisisandrewpalmer.com and co-founder of Bertha.ai, and we’re just in a really exciting collaboration with Yoast. So, go to yoast.com or Bertha.ai, and you’ll find out what we’re doing, and it’s great.

(01:41)

Jonathan Denwood: Right. That’s fantastic. Before we go into this great interview, I have a couple of messages from our major sponsors. We’ll be back in a few moments.

(01:52)

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(02:47)

Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. I just want to point out that we have some great special offers from our sponsors, plus some great recommendations for plugin services for WordPress and SaaS. To get all these goodies, just go over to wp-tonic/recommendations, and they’re all listed out there, my tribe. So, David, we’ve had a pandemic, probably, good news in some ways, for me, tough or not, probably not, because a load of Meetups was canceled, so it’s probably been exciting times at Meetup.

Over the past two to three years, what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Meetup? And have you got any advice or insights about how you dealt with them? Only a minor question, David.

(03:39)

David Siegel: That’s a great start. Of course, absolutely. Let’s do it. So, Meetup was virtually 100% IRL or in real life or in-person for its first 18 years of existence; in fact, the number one reason why we turned down a Meetup organizer, and we have turned down millions, if not tens of millions of dollars because we were so focused on in-person, in-person, in-person. Well, in February 2020, we started seeing almost all of our events get canceled in China; Meetup is in 193 different countries, so I saw China, 95% cancellations just overnight in February, like, oh, maybe this is a thing like SARS or something else, that’s going to stay in Asia, it’s not going to move anywhere else.

And then we start seeing in Northern Italy, every single event getting canceled, every RSVP getting canceled, and we’re like, hmm, this didn’t happen when SARS happened years ago. But it’s not going to happen in the United States, of course not. We never have had pandemics in the United States; it’s been a hundred years since the last big one. Of course, it happened in early March, a Meetup employee was actually one of the first people in all of New York City to get COVID, we vacated us, I was at a conference with him, actually, I didn’t get COVID, he did, it was late February, which was quite early in New York.

We vacated our office, which at the time was in a WeWork building; there were all these articles about how WeWork has COVID, Meetup has COVID, all of our events were in person, and we were also in the middle of a sale process of selling the company out of WeWork. And.

(05:13)

Andrew Palmer: Wow.

(05:13)

David Siegel: Yeah. And I got everyone together and I said, Meetup after 18 years could go under, let’s talk about what we need to do, because everything was falling apart, and we’re about to sell the company, as I mentioned. All of our investors, all potential people who were going to acquire the company, also pulled out because of the pandemic and I got everyone together and I said, what are we about? What is our mission? Is our mission about IRL, in real life, or is our mission about connections, is our mission about building connections?

And people who have been here for a long time said, we can’t do virtual Meetup groups, that would be terrible, that’s against our entire mission. In fact, our founder, Scott Heiferman, one time, at a big WeWork conference, stood up with an ax and started smashing the AR device because he said we will never do anything virtually. I made the decision, I said, stop everything that you’re doing; we’re enabling virtual groups, making virtual events; in the pandemic, we have now had, this is pretty insane, over three and a half million virtual events at Meetup, over 30, 35 million people have participated multiple times in those virtual events and also 190 different countries in the world.

 And it’s the best thing we could have done and crisis, sometimes, is the best form of innovation; we would never have prioritized virtual events, but now, if you are living in Kansas City and you want to learn Swahili, and we only have Swahili learning groups in 15 different cities around the world, well, now you could learn it. Now, you can join a group in Montreal, that’s teaching Swahili.

(06:52)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, just a quick follow-through question. That sounds great, but how did you actually, do it? Because you have to build a bloody platform and you have to have developers and you have to assemble a team and you have to have a plan and you have to get done ASAP, how did you do it?

(07:18)

David Siegel: Yeah. So, every leader always has to ask the question of, do you build, do you buy, or do you partner? And our answer was, we’re not going to build a whole new video conferencing platform, that doesn’t make sense. Instead, we’re going to partner with and integrate with as many different video conferencing platforms as possible, so we’re integrated with zoom, we’ve, actually, had over, I think a hundred to 200 different video conferencing platforms have been used for different Meetup events.

And we enabled those integrations, we enabled those types of work to be done, we dealt with the different standard time that people are in different locations and different time zones, the different places, and it’s worked out swimmingly well, shall we say,

(08:02)

Jonathan Denwood: Oh, over to you, Andrew?

(08:04)

Andrew Palmer: Oh, it’s incredible that you had to, not pivot, you had to spin, it’s crazy.

(08:12)

David Siegel: More than a pivot.

(08:14)

Andrew Palmer: Whirling dervishes in the office, and also, it’s not about just, and I have a question, but it’s not just about pivoting or spinning or whatever; it’s handling the emotions of everybody that works for Meetup and, especially, their morals of saying, no, we’re in real life. We can’t do this. It doesn’t matter whether we go bust; we going against our standards. So, kudos, for handling that, so a lot of people listening and watching, and I am not one of them, I didn’t realize that you were part of or WeWork owned you, up until now, because I’m an idiot.

So, Adam Newman, a few things going on with that and WeWork and nightmares and property and things going on. So, he hired you, so you know the sandal-wearing person or the barefoot-wearing person and the visionary, because I’m sure he was a visionary, when you’re doing stuff like that, you need to have a little bit of vision. What was it like working with him?

(09:25)

David Siegel: Yeah. So, when I was contacted by a board member of WeWork, a guy named Michael Eisenberg, he said, David, I want to introduce you to Adam Newman. He was an investor at a company called Seeking Alpha, that was the president of Seeking Alpha, I was the CEO of Investopedia prior to this and we sold Investopedia; he contacted me and he asked me if I was interested in WeWork and Meetup. And I said, oh my God, beyond interested in Meetup, love to meet Adam.

We met. And it was everything you’d expect, it was an insane meeting, it was all over the place, it was each of us standing on tables at different times. It was just, a prominent vegan meal, the whole nine yards, he liked me the first meeting and then he’s like, I like David, but I need to meet with him a second time. I knew I had to do something kind of crazy because people tend to like people who are similar to themselves, and since Adam’s crazy, he likes interviewing and meeting people who are also crazy.

So, I walked into the office and I saw that someone, I was wearing my white, nice button-down shirt and jeans, and I saw someone was wearing a t-shirt that said, Meetup plus WeWork. I’m like, oh my God, literally, just walked right past me. And I walked over to him and I said, I need to get your t-shirt, can we trade shirts? I have a hundred-dollar, white, Brooks Brothers shirt, you have a raggedy old t-shirt, can I switch shirts? So, we went to the supply closet, we switched shirts, I walked into the interview with Adam and I’m like, Adam, I’m already a part of Meetup, already a part of WeWork.

Look, I’m here, I’m ready to start. And he just started cracking up and he’s like, well, if you can take the shirt off of someone’s back, you’re my kind of guy. And then 27 interviews later because it was a whole long process to get hired, but then WeWork, I was taking over for the first time founder of Meetup, they had barely just told that Scott Heiferman was the founder, that they needed to look for a new CEO. And it was a three-month process, I probably, spent 4 to 500 hours in different meetings and preparations for meetings and it all worked out in the end.

(11:23)

Andrew Palmer: And how does that compare to previous career moves that you made in interviewing process and everything? Because you’re pretty high-level, Meetup has, you’ve done millions of stuff, I expect there are millions of pounds of or dollars, rather, of turnover. I’m in the UK, by the way, sorry, I think in pounds.

(11:43)

David Siegel: No, pounds and turnover, I got it.

(11:45)

Andrew Palmer: And lots of staff, lots of HR issues, lots of stuff going on, how does that interview process or getting that job process compare to what it was before?

(11:58)

David Siegel: Yeah, well, like they say, just like dating is an excellent way to know whether or not someone is going to be the right fit for marriage, interviewing is dating and it’s an excellent way to learn about what the company’s going to be like. And because the interview process was so F’ed up and disorganized and chaotic and, just very operationally inefficient, I knew that WeWork was going to be, kind of, hell; I knew it was going to be the most challenging job I’ve ever had in my life.

I knew that I was going to a situation where I would learn a tremendous amount and also be under a lot of stress. It was so crazy that I decided to write a book about that whole experience of becoming a CEO under WeWork and living in the WeCrashed, kind of, world.

(12:42)

Andrew Palmer: Sure.

(12:43)

David Siegel: So, I knew it would be tough, I remember saying to my wife, I said, if I take this job, I’m going to be in a tough place for the next six months. I was wrong; it was three years ago, but things are great now.

(12:55)

Jonathan Denwood: But, David, is there a moment in your experience with Adam and his beloved wife, that you realized, we’ve jumped the shark here? Is there a moment that comes to your mind, that you realize, because there are always, I’ve found really, really, really bright people that they tend to be a little bit weird, but there’s just a point where you know that they’ve just lost it, you know?

(13:31)

David Siegel: Oh, yeah. A hundred percent.

(13:32)

Jonathan Denwood: Is there a time where you just tweaked?

(13:35)

David Siegel: No, I got into a disagreement with Adam about something; specifically, he wanted me to fly for six hours from New York to San Francisco at one o’clock in the morning, arriving at 7:00 AM to figure out the entire strategy for Meetup on the airplane. And I said to Adam, that doesn’t work for me. A, I have a really important doctor’s appointment for my kid that next day and I can’t cancel that. And, B, I’m not going to develop strategy on a plane with you, that’s just not the way I do things. And he said, no, no, no, you’re going to do it. And I said, no, I’m not, it’s not going to happen.

(14:15)

Andrew Palmer: Sure.

(14:16)

David Siegel: And he said, I was the first person to ever kind of turn him down and rejected going on a plane with him. He then said to me, David, Barack Obama, if he asked you to go on a plane with him for five or six hours, would you turn Barack Obama down? And I’m like, Adam, frankly, you’re not Barack Obama. And, again, I talked about it, and I have to show you something here; hold on for a sec. So, I talked about that in the book and then I was just in Dublin, Ireland, actually, just a couple of weeks ago.

And I spoke at an event meeting with organizers, and an artist came in, and he handed me a work of art that he had made. And it just totally surprised me. He made this work of art, of a picture of, here we go, of me, kind of, flying a plane for Meetup, and on the front of the plane is Adam Newman flying the plane, and the side of the plane has a picture of WeWork kind of taken over by Meetup. And then we never really talked about it.

(15:16)

Andrew Palmer: Adam Newman had his mouth taped up on that picture, didn’t he?

(15:20)

David Siegel: Yeah. The reason his mouth was taped up is because.

(15:22)

Andrew Palmer: This is a podcast, so we have to describe that. So, Adam Newman in the pilot seat with black masking tape over his face, you’re there holding the plane. WeWork has been crossed out, Meetups on the top, and you’re, basically, showing who the boss is, right?

(15:41)

David Siegel: I didn’t do the image, someone else made the image, but it’s amusing.

(15:43)

Andrew Palmer: Yeah. He got it from.

(15:46)

David Siegel: And the reason why.

(15:46)

Andrew Palmer: The description of the story, I think.

(15:47)

David Siegel: And the reason why the mouth is taped up is that one of my criteria for taking the job was that Adam wouldn’t talk to me for the first three months because I wanted to have full focus on the business and learning the business before I’d have to kind of present our strategy or being told what to do. So, as part of that, I said that to him, and they agreed to that plan, so that was the reason for the mouth being taped up. So, it was a lot of exciting experience, shall we say?

(16:12)

Jonathan Denwood: So, obviously, we’ve all watched the TV series of.

(16:18)

David Siegel: WeCrashed.

(16:19)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. It’s entertainment, but is the essence of Adam, what you see on that TV series? Is there any kind of truth about what you see or is it totally just, ah, and, you know the guy, I don’t, you saw the TV series, what do you think?

(16:44)

David Siegel: Sure. So, I have two things to share about that. So, number one, which by the TV series, it could be, you’re referring to the Hulu documentary, there’s also a show called WeCrashed on Apple, then there are also two books called ‘Billion Dollar Loser,’ and ‘The Cult of We.’ I’ve seen all of those, I’ve read all of those, et cetera. Two things to share. Number one is, that the actual reality of life under WeWork was, actually, crazier than.

(17:06)

Andrew Palmer: You couldn’t write it, right? You couldn’t write it because people wouldn’t believe the madness.

(17:10)

David Siegel: Sometimes the truth is crazier, so an example of that is, in the WeCrashed show; they had a gong that people would hit that said, WeWork on it. You probably remember that it was a gold gong. So, someone who was a C-level executive, they used to pick him up and use his head to hit the gong, except for when they had to bring him to the emergency room, because he was bleeding out of his head from that.

Now, that wasn’t in the show, but it’s an example of some craziness that occurred; on the other side, however, I’ll tell you; that what Adam doesn’t get credit for is the purity of his intentions. He deeply did not just care about himself, yes; of course, he cared about himself, lots of people care about themselves. He also cared about making the world a better place; he cared about building community for people. He cared about changing the way that people work.

He cared about building connections and giving motivation, giving a mission to young people. And it’s not just BS that he cared, he deeply, deeply, and his wife, Rebecca, deeply cared about, people make fun of elevating the world’s consciousness, but whatever that means, he deeply cared about helping people to feel more meaning in their lives.

(18:13)

Andrew Palmer: And build a community.

(18:13)

David Siegel: He didn’t go about doing it the right way, but he deeply cared about that.

(18:18)

Andrew Palmer: I get that. And I think the WeWork, Meetup, physical, in real life, was an excellent tie-up because you could hire a WeWork room for whatever. It’s alright talking about Adam, but that’s history; now, the future you built on not going in real life because of a situation; Mother Nature came to us and said, you’re all going to be working from home, and you’re not going to be able to go out for a while. You and your crew had to handle that transition into that, but they also had to handle the WeCrashed situation with a new CEO or a kind of newish CEO who wasn’t quite as mad as a fish, right?

So, how did people treat you during the WeCrashed moment? Because, again, WeWork and Meetup were going to part ways because of the financial situation, how did people react within Meetup and your customers to that transition happening or not happening?

(19:34)

David Siegel: Sure. So, to give a quick context. I joined Meetup in October of 2018. Meetup had been required nine months earlier in January 2018. About a year later, the meetup was put up for sale, so I had a year to build trust and relationships, and all of our employees had WeWork stock. They didn’t have Meetup stock; all their equity was in WeWork. So, when we watched the 47 billion valuations go to 40 to 30 to 20, to 10 to 5, that was every person’s money, that was every person’s kind of value, and people were oftentimes underpaid because of the fact that they had WeWork stock to compensate for that.

So, that was a challenging situation. When I stood up and announced in September of 2019, I stood up and said. Actually, here’s what happened. In September, I was told that the IPO was not going to happen; WeWork is going to be selling Meetup and a bunch of other companies. I said, great, OK, you just make sure that I have an opportunity to tell our employees before anyone else knows about it because I’m going to lose trust and credibility if they find out about it from the press. They cannot find out about it from the press.

I then get a call from a senior executive over at WeWork saying, David, I am so sorry, a Wall Street Journal article is hitting in 30 minutes from now. And in the article is going to mention that WeWork is divesting Meetup. I’m so sorry that people are going to find out that way. I knew you had told me that’s not the way you wanted it. That’s it. So, I said, hell, no, that’s not going to happen. So, I quickly got every employee in a meeting together. I called the manager. I said to the manager; get over here right now to our office because we’re going to announce this together, not just me.

I stood up in front of everyone, and I said, I have a significant announcement to make, I know this was impromptu. WeWork is officially going to be selling Meetup; the decision has been made. A woman in the back stands up and screams, hallelujah!

(21:27)

Andrew Palmer: Exactly. Exactly. Freedom. See, immediately, they get the freedom.

(21:30)

David Siegel: Freedom. Exactly, it was like Braveheart. Freedom!

(21:34)

Jonathan Denwood: Hallelujah. We need to go for our break, folks, we’ll be back in a few moments. We’re coming back. I’ve learned from David, I need to get a gong and smack some employees into it.

(21:49)

Andrew Palmer: You mean me?

(21:50)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. Before we go into the other part of this interview, I have some great messages from some other sponsors. We’ll be back in a few moments.

(22:04)

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(22:39)

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(23:09)

Jonathan Denwood: Coming back. The gong episode, that’s what I’m going to call this. So, what is it, David? You could have moved to General Motors or some nice quiet setup and just counted your money; what makes you want to join these crazy organizations and deal with it? Oh, I suppose your wife asks you that every day as well.

(23:36)

David Siegel: Every day. Every day.

(23:37)

Jonathan Denwood: So, what’s this about, David?

(23:39)

David Siegel: Yeah.

(23:39)

Jonathan Denwood: Have you got any insight about your own madness?

(23:42)

David Siegel: Yeah. So, I care about using my time in ways that make the world a better place. There’s a.

 

(23:47)

Jonathan Denwood: Why did you decide to come on this podcast then, David?

(23:50)

David Siegel: I heard you make the world a better place; that’s how it works. So, I am deeply terrified about the loneliness epidemic that exists in this world; 46% of people globally regularly feel lonely, not sometimes, not occasionally, but regularly, feel lonely. Among people who are 18 to 25 years old, it’s; actually, 62% regularly feel lonely, whether it’s in the UK, whether it’s in Australia, whether it’s Ireland, whether it’s in the US; it’s significant problem loneliness. Meetup is the cure for the loneliness epidemic.

We impact 60 million people in this world and help to build a community for people, and, for me, it’s a reason to deal with chaos, to deal with craziness, to deal with the challenges because I want to spend my life and my time helping to build a community for people.

(24:35)

Jonathan Denwood: Oh, well, there we go. I have a mind being on business.

(24:38)

Andrew Palmer: No, gentlemen, it’s the way it is. One of the things I want to know is, and I’m sure the tribe would want to know as well. What’s the ratio now of IRL as opposed to online?

(24:49)

David Siegel: Yeah. So, it’s gotten super fascinating. So, for example, in the middle of the pandemic in the United States in Texas and Florida, Florida, where, apparently, COVID never hit in certain states in the United States and people were just unmasked throughout. It was 80% in-person, even though the craziest amount of when COVID was really strong; today, globally, we are 81%, actually, right now in real life, in-person and 19% remote, and there are certain areas, like areas in Latin America and South America, where COVID is, remarkably, higher in certain places.

In India, where COVID is higher, where it might be as high as 50%, we can look at global heat maps and see when percentages of COVID in different locations, but right now, we’re about 80% in person, 20% virtual and that’s a flip from about a year ago, year and a half ago, when Delta was so strong, where it was close to 70, 80%, it was virtual back then.

(25:49)

Andrew Palmer: And hybrid, any kind of records on hybrid?

(25:53)

David Siegel: Sure. So, we have many groups that are hybridized groups, meaning they have events that are in-person and they have events that are virtual, and a good 5 to 10% of groups, including I’m an organizer of a group; my group, sometimes holds in-person events, sometimes holds virtual events. They have both in-person and virtual events, but, in terms of an event being a hybrid event, meaning it’s both in-person and virtual at the same time, we have very few of those because those are really tough to make great experiences. But many, many groups are doing both, which I love.

(26:25)

Jonathan Denwood: So, David, it looks like we are entering a rocky period for the economy and, especially, a rocky period for tech. There are a lot of tech companies that are zombies, it looks very unlikely they’re ever going to make a profit, and they’re [Inaudible – 26:47] the idea that they’re going to go back to their investors and recapitalize if they utilize, is, probably, they’re not going to get a great response. How do you see this? How things are going to pan out in the next 12 months to two years, in general?

(27:08)

David Siegel: Sure. Okay. So, number one, I’m not an investment in Bitcoin or cryptocurrency, fortunately, and I continue to not believe that there’s a short-term valuation opportunity there. In terms of the economy, I think inflation is a severe problem in the United States, and it’s a severe problem globally as well; I think it’s more of a problem in the United States than it is in Europe.

But it’s a big issue. I think the oil crisis and challenges with the increased oil prices is a really complicated issue, I think the war in Russia and Ukraine is going to persist for a more extended period of time than anyone’s anticipating, and it could be a multi-year type of war, which will, obviously, impact oil pricing, which will impact inflation. So, I think that we’re also seeing significant interest rate increases, which also has a negative impact on a lot of companies’ valuations as interest rates go up; I think a lot of tech companies are going to be going out of business.

I think you’re already seeing an increase in terms of the number of terminations by tech companies, whether it’s Coinbase, that announced 20% of their employees are getting laid off or other companies that are laying off employees I think that’ll continue and grow.

(28:19)

Andrew Palmer: I think mainly FinTech. Isn’t it mainly FinTech that is laying people off to save me a lot of money.

(28:22)

David Siegel: It’s FinTech, but it’s also general tech. And I think the focus is going to be on fundamentals; you have to be a profitable business. Meetup has been profitable, Meetup lost 18 and a half million dollars under WeWork in 2019, and in 2020, we made $3 million under the pandemic. So, we had a 22 and a million dollar swing after we divested out of WeWork because of their ownership. We’ve been profitable every quarter of COVID, despite COVID kind of hurting our challenge.

Ultimately, leaders need to understand, tech leaders and any other leaders, that the fundamentals of businesses don’t change; you need to be a profitable business, you need to return investment to shareholders in a reasonable period of time, or you’re not going to sustain. And, I think more and more companies are going to get back to those fundamentals; listen, I lived through the internet, the 1990s; I was at one of the top internet companies called DoubleClick back in that day.

I remember seeing our company go from a $10 price to 200 down to 8, in the span of one year during the internet bubble; we are not in that same bubble, but we’re in a problematic situation, and it’s righting itself right now, and there’s more to come.

(29:25)

Jonathan Denwood: Do you think?

(29:26)

Andrew Palmer: Let me tell you, people are investing. I talk to and get approached by funders, pretty much every day, so people are still investing, but they’re maybe not investing the hundreds of millions, they’re sort of more in the 2, 3 to 10 million investment way, but they go there. Sorry, Jon, just to. The smaller businesses aren’t getting opportunities for funding, that’s all I’m saying, it’s the larger ones that need the billion dollars or if they’re valued at 7 billion and, actually, they haven’t made any money together.

(29:57)

David Siegel: The stupid valuations have gone away and will continue to go away, and that’s a good thing. It’s a great thing.

(30:03)

Jonathan Denwood: But, David, didn’t things, really, need to be? None of us has a crystal ball about what’s going to happen in the next 18 months, two years, but the reality is things needed to calm down a bit anyway because they were getting a bit bonkers anyway, weren’t they?

(30:22)

David Siegel: Yeah. This is all good; this is all just normal. It goes back to hundreds of years, the tool of crisis, things get crazy, and they settle down to normalcy, and we’re just, kind of, settling down to normalcy mode, that’s all.

(30:38)

Jonathan Denwood: Where do you see Meetup, are there any possibilities for Meetup, I’m not asking you, and you’re definitely not going to tell me deep secrets, but is there any bigger vision for Meetup? Is there anything where you would like it to be in a couple of years’ time that you see that there are some real opportunities for Meetup itself or in the space in general?

(31:09)

David Siegel: Yeah, absolutely. So, listen, a hundred years ago was the dual hit of the Spanish Flu and World War I and people wearing masks, and it’s not a coincidence that the roaring twenties, which is what it’s referred to in the United States and may be referred to in the UK as well, came out of that time period. Well, we’re in the early twenty twenties now; the roaring twenties is going to be happening; it’s already starting in 2023, 24, or 25. People’s desperate need to get out and get out of social isolation and do fun things is much greater than it ever has been.

People are no longer coming into the offices five days a week, which means that their need for connections and need for people is much greater out of their homes than it ever was, and Meetup can be playing a much, much, it has been now, playing a much more significant role in people’s near their home communities, where they live, rather than just where people work. We’re always where people live, and people work, but it’s opening up so many opportunities; the number of people searching for remote work Meetup groups is up 300% over just a year ago and up even more than that from pre-pandemic.

So, there’s a tremendous opportunity with the migration of workers from offices to home, the need for community, which is even more significant, and the post-pandemic need for going out and doing things. And there’s no reason why we only have 60 million people using Meetup; that should be 600 million people, that should be 6 billion people, and that’s what’s going to happen in the future, and we’re investing behind it; we’re excited about it, and we’re already seeing every one of our metrics just, kind of, way up into the right now. It’s fun.

(32:44)

Andrew Palmer: Brilliant.

(32:44)

Jonathan Denwood: Right. We’re going to wrap up the podcast part of the show. David’s agreed to stay on for what we call bonus content. I’m, actually, going to talk to David about what he brought up about loneliness and about the contradiction of living in a digital communication age, yet you have loneliness, the feeling of isolation grows. I’ll be interested in his thoughts about that. So, David, what’s the best way to find out more about you and your thoughts and insights, David?

(33:16)

David Siegel: Okay. What I would say is to learn about Meetup, really download our app, iOS, Android, or go onto meetup.com, but I love the app, and just look, and you’ll find something super interesting that you never would’ve thought of and just go to an event and you will not regret it, you will not regret meeting a bunch of great people.

Learning about me, I would say the best thing to do is because this book was a passion of my soul, it’s called ‘Decide and Conquer: 44 Questions That Make or Break all Leaders’, just came out, really, just a few months ago, you could buy it on Amazon, local bookstore, wherever. And that’s a great way to learn about me, or you go on LinkedIn and send me a LinkedIn invite and, hopefully, I accept, and we get to know each other and build a relationship too.

(33:58)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. Is there an audiobook? Because I have a bit of dyslexia, I usually.

(34:01)

David Siegel: There is an audiobook on Audible, and I’ve been told, it has. Literally, I think, five out of five stars by every person that’s left a review, a dozen people.

(34:11)

Jonathan Denwood: Do you read it?

(34:13)

David Siegel: So, I don’t because I was told my voice was too nasally for it, but I did pick out the person, and he sounds a lot like me, very youthful and enthusiastic, so he’s excellent. We got a lot of good feedback about it.

(34:24)

Jonathan Denwood: You can’t say that about me, Dave? Andrew, how can people find out more about you?

(34:32)

Andrew Palmer: Well, they can find out more about bertha.ai/Yoast. So, they have a little collaboration about that; that’s all I’m talking about for the next three or four weeks.

(34:40)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, I’ve noticed, Andrew.

(34:41)

Andrew Palmer: Shush, shush, I’m talking. We’re really enjoying working with Yoast; they’re great people. Honestly, they’re really hard workers, and they’re doing us an excellent service by recommending an AI. It’s a big deal; Yoast is the most extensive SEO plugin out there, so I’m pretty pleased.

(35:03)

Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. I’m so pleased. As I said, David’s staying with us. To watch the whole interview, you go over to the WP-Tonic YouTube channel, watch the rest of the interview, and please subscribe to the YouTube channel, it helps me, helps the podcast, and it helps the tribe. We’ll be back next week with another great guest. We’ll see you soon, folks. Bye.

(35:24)

Outro: Hey, thanks for listening; we really do appreciate it. Why not visit the mastermind Facebook group also, to keep up with the latest news, click wp-tonic.com/newsletter. We’ll see you next time.

 

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