Unicorns 9/229 – WeWork
Founder: Adam Neumann
Key people: Adam Neumann (Founder and CEO)
WeWork is an American company which provides shared workspace, community, and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and small businesses. Founded in 2010, it is headquartered in New York City. WeWork has a current valuation of roughly USD $16 billion.
WeWork designs and builds physical and virtual communities in which entrepreneurs share space and office services and have the opportunity to work together. The company’s 30,000+ members have access to health insurance, an internal social network, social events and workshops, and an annual summer retreat. WeWork has more than 250 employees and has locations in 19 United States cities and 12 countries including Australia, Canada, India, China, Hong Kong, France, United Kingdom, Israel, South Korea, Mexico, Netherlands and Germany.
History and funding
In May 2008, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey established GreenDesk, an “eco-friendly coworking space” in Brooklyn. In 2010, Neumann and McKelvey sold the business and started WeWork with its first location in New York’s SoHo district. By 2014, WeWork was considered “the fastest-growing lessee of new office space in New York” and was on track to become “the fastest-growing lessee of new space in America.” “During the economic crises, there were these empty buildings and these people freelancing or starting companies,” Neumann told the New York Daily News. “I knew there was a way to match the two. What separates us, though, is community.”
WeWork members have includ ed startups such as Consumr, HackHands, Whole Whale, Coupon Follow, Turf, Fitocracy, Reddit and New York Tech Meetup. In 2011, PepsiCo placed a few employees in the SoHo WeWork, who acted as advisors to smaller WeWork member companies. The first WeWork Labs opened in New York’s SoHo in April 2011. WeWork Labs functions as a startup incubator within WeWork. It provides an open workspace with the goal of encouraging collaboration among members who “don’t have their business ideas fully cooked.”
WeWork investors as of 2014 includ ed J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, T. Rowe Price Associates, Wellington Management, Goldman Sachs Group, the Harvard Corp., Benchmark, and Mortimer Zuckerman, former CEO of Boston Properties. As of January 2015, WeWork had 51 coworking locations in across the U.S., Europe and Israel – twice as many as it had at the end of 2014 with plans to expand to reach every continent (except Antarctica) by 2017. On June 1, 2015 WeWork announced that Artie Minson, former Chief Financial Officer of Time Warner Cable, would join the company as President and Chief Operating Officer. WeWork was named among the “most innovative companies” of 2015 by Fast Company magazine.
It was announced on March 9th, 2016 that WeWork raised $430 million in a new round of financing from Legend Holdings and Hony Capital Ltd., valuing the company at $16 billion. As of October 2016, the company had raised $1.7 billion in private capital. In October 2016, the company announced their plans to open a fourth location in Cambridge/Boston area. WeWork opened offices in Boston’s Leather District and Fort Point in 2014 and have plans in place for a larger office in Back Bay. The first Cambridge office will be in Central Square and have space for 550 desks. On January 30, 2017, the Wall Street Journal wrote that “SoftBank Group Corp. is weighing an investment of well over $1 billion in shared-office space company WeWork Cos., in what could be among the first deals from its new $100 billion technology fund.”