Is WeWork the real deal?

Alex Barrera
9 min readApr 23, 2018

This story was first published in The Aleph Report.

The way our generation is living is changing. It stands to reason that our needs as individuals are also shifting. However, we resist acknowledging that change is affecting more than just our news consumption habits.

One of those spaces that we refuse to recognize is the transformation of work. The most significant testimony of this shift is the rise of coworking spaces. And within that movement, one brand outshines the rest, WeWork. With a 4.5 billion dollars war chest and a 20 billion dollar valuation, it’s becoming hard to ignore.

Number of coworking spaces worldwide from 2005 to 2018 — Statista

For many, though, WeWork remains a mistake, or a fluke and coworking is just another millennial fad. Detractors are quick to point out that WeWork is an over-glorified Regus. A reseller of office space catered to the hipster echelons of tech society. This speed of judgment is preventing us from understanding why WeWork matters.

The company started as a coworking space but limiting its scope to that is myopic. Many journalists and professionals, though, are quick to dismiss WeWork’s innovative approach.

“WeWork’s coworking spaces give entrepreneurs space to work, and come equipped with amenities like free beer, stocked fridges, and Foosball tables.”

How WeWork became the most valuable startup in New York City

Let’s start with the obvious. WeWork isn’t only about space. If it were, then it wouldn’t have become one of the fastest growing coworking spaces in the world. The devil lies in the details.

Yes, the organization sells space, but not just any space. It acts as a broker between landlords that need to fill their space and companies that are looking for affordable office rents.

Most coworking companies pick any affordable space that allows them to offer cheap rent. This isn’t the case with WeWork. There is a careful study around where and what to rent. This alignment with the space providers allows them to negotiate what others can’t.

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Alex Barrera

Chief Editor at The Aleph Report (@thealeph_report), CEO at Press42.com, Cofounder & associated editor @tech_eu, former editor @KernelMag.