Two innovative, Atlanta-based Black-owned companies announced today that they have agreed to merge.
The Gathering Spot Inc., which put a new twist on the old concept of private dining clubs and co-working spaces when it launched in 2016, has agreed to be acquired by Greenwood Inc., an online banking company launched in 2020, the companies told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. They didn’t disclose a sale price but both companies said the newly combined entity would allow them to scale by building a Black-owned firm that could offer unique services and experiences to customers.
To that end, the Gathering Spot’s founders, Ryan Wilson and TK Peterson, will stay on at the combined company as chief community officer and vice president, respectively. Greenwood’s founders and executive include entrepreneur Ryan Glover, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and Killer Mike, the Atlanta-based rapper whose real name is Michael Render.
Greenwood was formed at the height of the protest movement over police violence against Black people in the early part of this decade. Along with the protests came a wave of new interest in Black economic empowerment and entrepreneurship and Greenwood’s founders rode that ethos with an early social media campaign that emphasized collective economics. The company claims some 30,000 account holders and $40 million in assets, according to the Wall Street Journal article, although it hasn’t yet launched its full suite of offerings.
Greenwood’s emphasis on Black economic power appealed to Wilson, who has long preached the virtues of bringing Black businesses to scale; in many conversations and interviews, Wilson often reminds his audience that an overwhelming number of Black-owned firms are sole proprietorships with no employees.
The first Gathering Spot opened in Atlanta in a small industrial park near the campus of Georgia Tech. The company opened its second location in Washington, D.C., last June and plans to open a third location in Los Angeles later this year. The clubs combine the idea of a common workspace and networking venue for entrepreneurs and professionals with the model of private dining clubs that have long been patronized by the wealthy in many cities. The idea is that by providing a space where Black and brown entrepreneurs and professionals feel like they’re the focus as opposed to an afterthought for diversity’s sake, the Gathering Spots could challenge more established clubs for patrons and even employees like chefs, bartenders or concierges.
The company claims more than 12,000 members who pay between $100 and $250 per month, according to the WSJ article.
On Tuesday morning, Wilson sent an email about the deal to the Gathering Spot’s members.
“After years of talking about the power of group economics and the power of our people, here it is playing out in real time,” the email read. “This represents a collective win. We are aligned in our missions to serve and empower our communities.”
Executives for the two companies plan a conversation moderated by radio host Angela Yee on Twitter Spaces on Wednesday at 7 p.m. eastern time.