Alexis Zumwalt, a 24-year-old investment banking analyst, had most of the things a millennial needs to survive her early years in New York City: a stable career, an apartment in Midtown Manhattan. But cultivating a social life proved more difficult. With her busy job, “I might know 15 minutes beforehand that I actually have some time this evening. It’s hard to find a last-minute thing to do,” she says. The city itself was intimidating. “In New York culture, people really stick to their cliques,” Zumwalt continues. With events, “either you go by yourself, which nobody likes, or you ask your friend to go with you, and you don’t meet new people.”
To solve the problem, Zumwalt joined a club. But the club, called Magnises, isn’t what the term usually brings to mind. The company is bringing the benefits of an online social network — immediacy, convenience, interactivity — into the real world, building a digital and physical layer over the city accessible only to its paying members. It’s a strategy that community-focused businesses like Soho House, WeWork’s newly launched residential WeLive branch, and Cliq, a social app crossed with an urban events guide, are also using to monetize millennial isolation. Even the Los Angeles-based PodShare, a terrifying live-work human beehive, describes itself as “a social network with a physical address.”
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.