I received an e-mail from Meetup.com a couple days ago. I enjoy using Meetup to explore my local software community. WeWork acquired Meetup in late 2017. After the recent debacle and Adam Neumann departure (I’m being nice here), Meetup announced fees for attendees and the community began to scramble for alternatives. Shortly after the community outcry caught attention, fees were scrubbed just before the new year. There were a few lines in the e-mail that caught my attention:
Dear Meetup members, Today we’re announcing that Meetup is no longer a subsidiary of WeWork and has been acquired by a group of investors dedicated to continuing our mission. This was a planned acquisition and is not related to the coronavirus. With these new investors by our side, we’ll continue to create real human connections, support our organizers, and grow Meetup to its fullest potential with you.
This interested me because of the recent legislation passed for the COVID-19 crisis. Even thought the CEO states his position about it being in the works well before COVID-19, it brought to light the possible fallout. Acquisitions and mergers lead to monopolies. A dangerous concetration of power in the hands of a few who misuse their power. We see this in almost every major industry with coercive contracts, secret rebates, retaliation, and political corruption. The “buy to kill” technique follow by the “price adjusting” one that stifles innovation, consolidates supply chains and promotes intellectual laziness. It’s commonly sold to the people under the term “free market” where institutions are organized entirely around the short-term horizon of financiers whose actual goal is to create a monopoly. A hierarchy where people who do the actualy work have little control over it and watch their leverage in the work force decline. The Fed shifted hundreds of billions of dollars to some of the most toxic private equity groups in the country. Now, when small business are most vulnerable and big business is borrowing money for free, this problem will grow.