billion parent company, The We Company,
publicly filed its IPO paperwork on Wednesday.
- WeWork started as one office space in the SoHo neighborhood of
New York City. Now, it has nearly 800 locations open or coming soon
in 124 cities around the world.
- The We Company is composed of WeWork, WeLive (a co-living
venture), WeGrow (a “conscious entrepreneurial school”), and Rise
by We (a “complete wellness experience”).
Read all of Business Insider’s WeWork coverage here.
WeWork, the nine-year-old co-working space startup, just filed
for its IPO as part of The We Company, its parent company last
valued at $47 billion.
Founder and CEO Adam Neumann opened the first WeWork space in
the SoHo neighborhood of New York City in 2010. Since then, the
company has re-branded as The We Company and
expanded into other ventures, including co-living subsidiary
WeLive and the “conscious entrepreneurial school”
WeGrow, among others.
Read on for the history of WeWork leading up to its highly
Melia Robinson originally authored this post, which has since
WeWork founders Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey met — where
else? — at the office.
Neumann came to New York City in 2001, fresh off his service in
the Israeli military. He started a company called Krawlers, which
sold clothes with padded knees for crawling babies.
“We were working in the same building as my co-founder Miguel
McKelvey, a lead architect at a small firm,” Neumann told
Business Insider’s Maya Kosoff in 2015.
“At the time, I was misguided and putting my energy into all the
wrong places,” he added.
Neumann also had an interest in real estate — he fell in love
with a vacant warehouse on Water Street while he was working in
In an interview
with Fast Company, Neumann recalled approaching the landlord
and asking for the building. The landlord said, “You’re in baby
clothes. What do you know about real estate?”
Neumann said he shot right back: “Your building is empty. What
do you know about real estate?”
He and his new friend McKelvey struck a deal to start a
real-estate business there: Green Desk, which still exists
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.
Customers, called “members,” could rent a desk or a private
office month to month. Neumann and McKelvey made money by charging
more for those spaces than their lease payments.
Green Desk offered most things individuals and small companies
needed: fully furnished offices, conference rooms, high-speed
internet access, utilities, printing, and a stocked kitchen.
As the economy buckled under the weight of a failing real-estate
market, Green Desk thrived. Neumann hypothesized that people liked
being part of a community. Some who were laid off during the
financial crisis started new businesses out of Green Desk.
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 and began WeWork.
Neumann and McKelvey had $300,000 between them, low credit
scores, and no building. Still, they convinced a landlord to rent
them one floor of a building on a trial basis.
The first WeWork location was just 3,000 square feet in a
tenement-style building in SoHo. It had creaky floorboards and
exposed brick, which the founders power-washed clean.
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.
“It was always thought of, ‘How can we support this person who
wants to live more collectively, live lighter — who wants to have
less stuff, who wants to pursue their passion, pursue a life of
meaning, rather than looking for just material success?'”
McKelvey told Business Insider.
They used their flagship location in Soho (which reportedly 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.
Benchmark led a Series A funding round of $17 million, pushing
WeWork further into growth mode. WeWork shot
up to 1.5 million square feet of space and 10,000 members by
As even more venture funding flowed in, the number of WeWork
WeWork opened its first international office in 2014 in London.
In an effort to diversify its revenue streams, WeWork got into
residential real estate in 2016. WeLive provides fully furnished
micro-apartments. People can join these communities and instantly
tap into amenities like free internet, maid service, and new
“In the big picture, we see WeLive as a huge opportunity, as big
as WeWork, for sure,” McKelvey told Business Insider. “I think
we’re lucky to have a good foundation in place where people trust
us and are interested in the product.”
In 2017, WeWork announced its WeGrow endeavor, a “conscious
entrepreneurial school” for children 2 to 11-years-old.
WeWork bought Lord & Taylor’s flagship store building in New
York City in October 2017 for $850 million.
Also in October 2017, WeWork opened its first gym. Rise by We is
located at 85 Broad Street in New York City. It offers yoga, boxing
classes, and a “superspa.”
WeWork confidentially filed IPO paperwork in December 2018 as The
We Company. Neumann announced the filing four months later in April
With a $47 billion valuation, The We Company publicly filed its S-1
IPO paperwork on Wednesday.
The filing provides the first in-depth look at WeWork’s
financial results. The document shows spiraling losses over the
last 3 years, with the firm posting a loss of $1.6 billion 2018 on
revenue of $1.8 billion.
It also reveals that CEO Adam Neumann volunteered to forgo a
salary for 2018.
WeWork declined to comment for this article.
Source: FS – All – Economy – News
WeWork just filed to go public — Check out the company's journey from one SoHo building to a billion valuation