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Modern office concept WeWork announced a $4.4 billion investment last week to expand their innovative co-working and co-living business to the Asia-Pacific and across the world. The $4.4 billion investment from the SoftBank Group and the SoftBank Vision Fund will not only bring about more WeWork co-working spaces in new markets, it is also the strongest sign yet that the co-working phenomenon represents the next evolution for the workplace.
Founded in New York in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, WeWork defines its mission as “to help create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living.” The substantial investment will accelerate WeWork’s ability to connect more people to WeWork’s global community, which currently stands at approximately 150,000 members, as well as expanding WeWork’s presence across the globe beyond its current 160 physical locations in over 50 cities and 16 countries.
“Driven by Adam’s superior vision and his highly talented team, WeWork is disrupting preconceived notions of work styles and opening up myriad opportunities for the next generation of creators around the world by taking a scientific approach that fully utilizes the latest technologies,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp.
Of the $4.4 billion investment, $3 billion will be fed into WeWork’s parent company via a primary investment in new shares and a secondary purchase of existing shares. The remaining $1.4 billion investment in three newly created companies; WeWork China, WeWork Japan and WeWork Pacific (Southeast Asia and Korea) – each controlled and managed by local WeWork management teams. WeWork plans to launch its first location in Tokyo in early 2018.
“When I met Masa and understood his vision for a technology-enabled future, a vision I share, I knew that together we would be able to make a big impact, grow our community and change how and where people work. Both WeWork and SoftBank have established reputations for connecting people and creating partnerships to facilitate innovation and inspire new ideas. SoftBank shares our tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit and through collaboration we will work to benefit people and communities in many innovative ways,” reciprocated Neumann.
WeWork provides an entirely new way to work by offering flexible space, services, and a connected community network to creators, entrepreneurs, small and medium businesses, and multinational companies. WeWork’s “space as a service” solution enables companies of all sizes to enter and exit markets opportunistically, grow and shrink office footprints according to their needs, and pursue new business lines and ideas in a way that best suits their particular needs.
The firm is committed to challenging outdated ways of building, using, and interacting with physical space in a working environment. To do this, it deploys industry-leading software and technology to maximize the efficiency of its portfolio of workspace locations and its operations, and thereby increase member satisfaction.
The company also uses data-driven analytics to better understand how people operate in the workplace and uses these insights to develop its product and create an even more compelling offering for its members. As one of the few end-to-end product companies that acts as an owner, operator, and client organization, WeWork has developed proprietary technological data systems that can source, design, and ultimately manage buildings.
They are even creating a digital operating system for physical space that leverages data and technology at each point in the building process so it can make better sourcing decisions, improve its designs, build faster and smarter, and ultimately improve the lives of the people working within its buildings. Its technologies and innovation are one of the key reasons why WeWork has been able to scale from operating one workspace location to more than 150 in just over seven years.
“WeWork is leveraging the latest technologies and its own proprietary data systems to radically transform the way people work,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp. “Adam’s unique vision and talented team have created a sharing platform that offers maximum flexibility and opportunity to creators of all types, from young entrepreneurs to large multinational companies. We are thrilled to support WeWork as they expand across markets and geographies and unleash a new wave of productivity around the world.”
In the last year, WeWork has diversified its product offering to better accommodate the needs of enterprise companies. Today, more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies are members with WeWork. This segment represents the fastest growing member demographic for WeWork and it now accounts for more than 20% of WeWork’s total membership, indicating the enormous potential for encouraging large and well-established companies to collaborate and innovate within WeWork’s member community.
SoftBank, meanwhile, is comprised of the holding company SoftBank Group Corp., its domestic telecommunications subsidiary SoftBank Corp., and its global portfolio of companies, which includes advanced telecommunications, internet services, AI, smart robotics, IoT and clean energy technology providers – including smart tech chip manufacturer ARM Holdings, as of September 2016.
“We are only as strong as our people and partners, so we look forward to our future with SoftBank, welcoming Japan into our global community and helping more creators and businesses to collaborate and innovate together in ways they could not yet imagine,” said Neumann said continuing the complementary remarks between the two CEOs.
“Masayoshi Son is a visionary business leader and we are humbled by this strong endorsement of our mission and purpose,” said Adam Neumann, Co-Founder and CEO of WeWork. “This support from SoftBank and the Vision Fund will provide even more opportunities for creators as we set out to humanize the way people work and live.”