Eight years ago, WeWork didn’t exist. But since 2010, Adam Neumann and his cofounder, Miguel McKelvey, have been taking over the world — literally — with what sounds like a deceptively simple business model: to rent office space from landlords wholesale, splinter it into smaller pieces, make it cozier and more attractive (think mosaics, exposed beams), then sublease it at a profit.
It sounds like something any outfit could do, and certainly, others are trying. In New York City alone, where WeWork opened its very first space, there are now upwards of 200 co-working locations today, up from 25 in 2009, according to the commercial real estate services firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.
Notably, WeWork — which has so far raised $1.4 billion from investors and is currently in talks to raise up to $4 billion more — controls half that market. It also has more than 100 other workspaces around the world, from L.A to Beersheeba, Israel, where Neumann was partly raised in a kibbutz and never expected to be doing business as an adult.
As he joked to employees in a pep speech attended by Fast Company last year, “When my designers came to me and said we’re going to open a location in Beersheba, I said, ‘Really, Beersheeba?’ They said, ‘Yes, it’s a college town.’ And I said, ‘I was born there. It used to be a dump.’ They said, ‘No, it’s been a long time since you’ve been there; it’s a college town.’ So, Be’er Sheva!” he’d said at the time, rallying the crowd.
Of course, with fast growth has come a huge valuation. (It hit $16 billion last year, when WeWork closed its last official round.) The question many are begging is whether the company is worth that rich price and, if so, how much more valuable could it grow to be.
We’re thrilled to say that at our upcoming Disrupt show in New York, we’ll have the chance to talk with Neumann about the company’s trajectory, its valuation, how WeWork fends off the many other players jumping into co-working (and co-living), and what comes next for the company.
We can’t wait for this sit-down. We hope you’ll enjoy it, too.
New York Disrupt takes place May 15-17 in Manhattan. You can snag your tickets here.
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