WeWork, a startup that leases trendy, millennial-friendly office space to startups and Fortune 500 companies, just became the sixth most valuable startup in the world and the third most valuable in USA behind Uber and Airbnb.
WeWork was founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey.
The company has raised over $US8 billion in funding to date — with $US4.4 billion flowing in since July 2017 — at a $US20 billion valuation.
In 2008, Green Desk became an early incarnation of WeWork. The company offered sustainable co-working spaces featuring recycled furniture, free-trade coffee, and green office supplies.
Something clicked for Neumann and McKelvey. They saw that it was the focus on community, not sustainability, that drove people to Green Desk. In 2010, they sold their stake to their landlord at the time and began WeWork in April 2011.
The first WeWork location was just 3,000 square feet in a tenement-style building in SoHo. It had creaky floorboards and exposed brick.
Early on, Neumann and McKelvey imagined office rentals as part of an ecosystem, complete with apartments, gyms, and even barber shops, that served the concept of a communal life.
They used their flagship in Soho (which turned a profit one month after launch) to host developers and investors and grow the WeWork brand.
WeWork opened four more locations in the next two years. It caught the attention of Benchmark, a top venture capital firm that made early bets on Twitter and Uber.
As even more venture funding flowed in, the number of WeWork locations exploded. Today, the company has more than 120,000 members in 164 offices spread across 17 countries.
In an effort to diversity its revenue streams, WeWork got into residential real estate in 2016.
WeLive provides fully furnished micro-apartments.
WeWork Wellness is planning a line of fitness centres. There haven’t been any openings yet.
To protect against a collapse in the startup world, WeWork started building offices for big companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM this year, in cities where they have fewer employees.
WeWork has a projected annual revenue of $1 billion for 2017, up 88% from last year.
In total, WeWork has 54 coworking spaces in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago, Austin, Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle, with additional international locations in London and Amsterdam, along with new locations in Tel Aviv and Herzliya in Israel.
WeWork has more than 2000 employees and has locations in 23 United States cities and 16 countries including Australia, Canada, India, China, Hong Kong, France, United Kingdom, Israel, South Korea, Mexico, Netherlands and Germany.
In July 2017, after an investment round the valuation of the company reached $20 billion. Later than month, it was announced that WeWork would expand heavily into China, with US $500 million invested by SoftBank, Hony Capital and other lenders to form a standalone entity called WeWork China.