Jun 29, 2017

WeWork wants to take its brand beyond its own real estate

Courtesy of WeWork

WeWork is best known for its dozens of hip office buildings around the world where startups and freelancers can rent out desks by the month and mingle with each other. But the company is also working to extend its brand beyond the walls of its own buildings.

Companies "are now starting to ask if we can bring in the experience and environment to them," WeWork product chief Dave Fano told Axios of the startup's new office management services in an interview.

Why it matters: WeWork's business model has faced skepticism, especially from the real estate industry. Its potential over-reliance on the current startup boom has raised questions around its future, should there be a downturn. Showing that it's not limited to its current real estate holdings could help the company, currently valued at more than $17 billion, counter some of that skepticism.

Bringing WeWork to the office: WeWork plans to help manage and design companies' existing offices and corporate campuses on a subscription basis. The most basic service will be WeWork's own suite of office management tech tools. For companies that want more, it will deploy "community managers" who will run and manage their office space, helping it adopt the "startup" feel WeWork says many are seeking. And lastly, for those that want the full WeWork experience, it will provide design and renovation consulting services. WeWork, which first discussed its plans in April, says it can help these customers more efficiently use and manage their office space this way.

Origin: The idea came from WeWork's existing "enterprise" customers—large companies with 1,000 or more employees that have inked deals to house some of them at WeWork's buildings. Last month, these customers accounted for 30% of WeWork's sales and about 20% of its occupied office inventory, according to the company. As their co-working rentals became increasingly coveted among employees, some of these companies told WeWork that they'd like their own offices to operate in a similar way.

Two of WeWork's existing enterprise customers are currently in the process of rolling out this new service into their own offices, though the company decline to name them. IBM and Microsoft are among the big companies that have inked deals with WeWork.

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