Last week, Scott Heiferman, C.E.O. of Meetup, announced when and where candidates could announce their interest in replacing him as organizer of the New York Tech Meetup. So far, several candidates have stepped forward, including Greg Magarshak, founder of social media company Lucky Apps; Joe DiPasquale, founder of CollegeWikis.com and self-described Meetup fanatic; Rich Hecker, an organizer of Bootstrapper.com and co-founder of The Connectors Group, a new angel investment group, and Groupable.com, a site that works a lot like Meetup; Joshua Sherman, an organizer of Personal Democracy Forum and founder of BuycottForChange.org; among others.
What does the tech community think so far? The blogs are abuzz.
"[T]hose who answered the call came new ideas ablazin’, writing manifestos, blog posts, etc… and the theme was the same… more, bigger, structure," wrote Charlie O’Donnell, C.E.O. of Path101 and founder of NextNY, in his blog today. "This is typical. No one ever wins this type of thing by promising more of the same. Change is sexy, as are big visions. However, as we should know from the web, focus and reduction are more likely to improve the quality of a product than adding more features."
Smaller groups with focused attention on community needs, Mr. O’Donnell wrote, work better than bloated organizations. "Have we not learned anything from AOL and Yahoo? Kludging disparate factions of a community together in an attempt to be its center never works. In fact, it goes against the very essence of Meetup itself–a loose collection of groups centered around focused interests, with lots of cross pollination but no central hub." Mr. O’Donnell proposes keeping the NYTM as it is or simply disbanding it before it becomes a disaster.
Nate Westheimer, an "entreprenuer in residence" at Rose Tech Ventures and tech community evangelist, wrote in his blog today that New York needs a "Power Alley." "We don’t need more great ideas or new great investors — we need more coordination!" Mr. Westheimer wrote. He proposes that the new organizer not necessarily create a big, "new" organization, but rather help the existing programs in the community have better communication. Every organization should know about every other organization, entreprenuers and VCs should know about government tax benefits and programs and most of them should be meeting up at big conferences together.
"Unless the next Organizer’s rallying cry — and only rallying cry — is to coordinate, she or he will flail and flounder, drunk with ideas of ‘bigger’ and ‘new.’"
According to Mr. Heiferman, a new organizer will be elected on Dec. 11th, after candidates give a five minute presentation at the Dec. 9th Meetup. "Then, with the new Organizer, Dawn [Barber] and I will establish a Board for the NYTM made mostly of other NY tech-related group Organizers," Mr. Heiferman wrote on the New York Tech Meetup’s message board. "If the new Organizer wants to make it a full-time paid gig, it’s up to her and the Board to figure out how to do so. Self-organized, baby!"