WeWork operates on two key mottos: Do what you love. Make a life, not just a living.
The company’s ability to preach and practice this work-life balance is really resonating with millennials and the community first movement, and therefore investors looking for the next Silicon Valley Unicorn, too.
@WeWork is revolutionizing the workplace. Since its founding in 2011, the company has spread to over 72 cities around the world, including NYC, Boston, Washington D.C., London, Tel Aviv, and Prague, and has over 400,000 members with a $20 billion valuation, right up there with Uber and Airbnb.
The founders of WeWork happened into the industry while pursuing other ventures. Adam Neumann, CEO, moved from Israel to the US in 2001 and started a baby clothing company called Krawlers, clothes with padded knees for crawling babies.
The struggling Krawlers happened to be located in the same building as future co-founder Miguel McKelvey, a lead architect at a small firm. Neumann and McKelvey both noticed vacant space in the building and thought to open up a coworking space for other entrepreneurs. The landlord agreed to let them open up Green Desk in 2008, which they later sold for several million and used that profit to launch WeWork.
The modern WeWork is more than an office space for a startup to get its footing. The founders specifically designed it around the “We Generation,” the new wave of employees who want more from work than just a job. By creating a community environment of like-minded people looking to help each other grow, displaying hip, crisp interior designs, and offering perks like unlimited free beer, stocked fridges and foosball tournaments, WeWork offers an appealing, somewhat romantic office culture vastly different from the stuffy corporate cultures and very distinguished from competitors like IWG.
This inspirational environment comes from the founders’ unique childhoods. Neumann has traveled a lot and comes from the social, community based Israeli culture. McKelvey grew up on a commune in Oregon, also largely community based. Because of this, the two men possess the unusual talent of being able to blend humanities with technology and business.
Initially, WeWork attracted companies for the short-term leases, but now they are starting to come for the culture. Some investors doubt WeWork’s multi-billion valuation, calling them a glorified real estate company that is full of flighty freelancers and risky startups ready to shut down if the economy dips. Other investors, like Japanese giant Softbank who invested $4.4 billion, see how WeWork is now attracting major enterprises and global corporations such as Facebook, Starbucks and Microsoft.
The WeWork team is rapidly expanding their reach beyond global office rental space. WeLive is generating the most hype, offering “micro apartments” and regular bedrooms to those looking to live a few floors above their workspace. WeRise, a luxury wellness gym and spa to rival Equinox, and WeGrow, a for-profit school led by Neumann’s wife Rebekah Paltrow Neumann, show WeWorks commitment to bring community to every aspect of life. Some not so jokingly wonder, what’s next, WeMars?