The exclusive Atlanta insider’s club The Gathering Spot — a favorite hangout for techies, creatives, and Black innovators — has been acquired for an undisclosed amount by Black-owned digital banking neobank platform Greenwood Bank in a deal spearheaded by venture capitalist Paul Judge.
The acquisition was reported by Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of the tech news outlet The Plug, whose team can often be found holding strategy sessions at The Gathering Spot.
The Gathering Spot was founded in 2016 by Ryan Wilson and his partner, TK Peterson, who were rejected 97 times while trying to raise capital. But the entrepreneurial pair persevered and opened the Black-owned private membership club.
Today, The Gathering Spot has three locations including Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and more than 12,000 paying members representing major U.S. entities such as Microsoft, Meta Platforms Inc., and the National Basketball Association. Memberships run from $100 to $250 a month.
A local entrepreneur and investor, Judge is on the board of Greenwood Bank, which was founded in 2020 by media executive Ryan Glover, hip-hop artist Michael “Killer Mike” Render and Andrew Young, former U.S. ambassador and Atlanta mayor. The company works with Mastercard to deliver debit cards and claims to have 30,000 account holders and more than $40 million in assets.
“The future of finance is community. The Black community has been a cultural leader for a long time. It makes sense that it now becomes more of a leader in business and in the future of finance,” Judge said in the prepared statement. “It is an important milestone to have two Black-owned companies on both sides of an M&A transaction. It brings a new meaning to the term ‘Black-on-Black’.”
Known as the Black country club, TGS will remain Black-owned. Still, some in Black America have questions.
Some are questioning Judge’s motives in pushing this deal through, especially since news surfaced that Judge recently donated $100,000 to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign. The donation came after one of Judge’s venues was one of six companies awarded a medical marijuana license in the state, The Plug reported. While Judge has contributed to mostly Democratic Party candidates including Stacy Abrams and Mayor Andre Dickens, his contribution to Republican Kemp raised eyebrows.
Judge is a noted Atlanta investor whose portfolio included companies he’s invested in through Judge Ventures, Panoramic Ventures, and the Softbank Opportunity Fund, among others.
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Kemp is part of the Republican Party that is actively stripping away Black voter rights across Georgia, so some question why Judge has connected with Kemp.
“What our fundamental focus should be on is that our political system right now…It has too much money in it. I think there’s way too many big organizations that have the ability to influence the outcomes of elections,” Wilson said. “But that to me is again, less of a red or blue thing and more of a fact that our political system overall really needs some examination. And I think that’s from money in politics to how we elect people all the way down to the electoral college.”
Photo: Ryan Wilson, the CEO and co-founder of The Gathering Spot. By Anita Sanikop/Moguldom