Pierre Omidyar (of eBay fame) invests heavily in meetup.com, where consumers sign up for free, local face-to-face meetings on various topics.
Ummmm. Am I missing something? The third group on the list is 'NKOTB fans' !!
If I had Omidyar style cash, it would definitely not
go to a glorified switchboard for fans of the greatest musical putrefaction ever excreted by a major label.
Stupidity aside, here's the play Omidyar's making. Like any switchboard model, meetup's an infrastructure for increasing returns to adoption: it relies on locking users in via a first mover advantage sustained by direct positive network externalities. In english, that means that the more users meetup already has, the more new users it stands to attract than competitors - because new users gain more from joining a bigger network.
Exit strategy: well, I doubt anyone would pay even a nominal amount to use this on the consumer end - no matter how much they love the New Kids. Meeting places - restaurants and the like - are
paying meetup, to get listed as meeting places. But even this is likely a nominal revenue stream.
My guess: The exit is likely a trade sale - to get bought by an aggregator which needs to sustain it's advantage, by locking in it's user base in the face of strategy decay. Prime candidate: Yahoo.