scott heiferman

Meetup wants to be Facebook for the real world

August 17, 2010: 1:45 PM ET

The social networking site is expanding beyond its web domain by introducing widgets to encourage impromptu meet ups. The media shy CEO explains his strategy to Fortune.

Interview by Alex Kantrowitz, contributor

See those Facebook "Like" buttons all over the web? If Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman has his way, his Meetup Everywhere buttons will be next. The New York-based social networking site, which currently has around 79,000 groups of people with common interests that, well, meet up, recently launched Meetup Everywhere, a widget that can be embedded into any web page, enabling visitors to plan meetups around the topics they're reading about.Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup

While just released two months ago, Meetup Everywhere is taking off fast. It is already in use by the Huffington Post, Mashable, Foursquare, Tech Crunch and, just last week, YouTube joined up. Yes, it's possible to meet up to discuss OMG cat.

The Huffington Post, one of the earliest adopters, asked its readers to meet and talk about the Gulf Oil spill early in June. Since that posting, 1,812 people in 25 countries have taken part in 439 Meetups, all centered around brainstorming and taking action to help blunt the spill's impact.

Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman usually works from behind the scenes, but he recently sat down with Fortune to discuss Meetup Everywhere and how it fits into his company's ultimate goal: "a meetup everywhere about most everything."

How far integrated into everyday life do you think Meetup Everywhere can actually become?

Anything in the world can be a stimulus for a meet up. And it should be. It seems like an inevitable part of the future. If there's something that you're fired up about that you just read in the paper, whether Nicholas Kristof or Rachel Maddow or Glenn Beck are writing about it, there should be a concentration of twelve people within two blocks of you who really want to have a conversation about it, and are willing to do so tomorrow during lunch hour. That's where we want to see the world go. More

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