Watching Adam Neumann, the billionaire co-founder of WeWork, address the crowd at the co-working company’s annual three-day Summer Camp is a bizarre experience.
Welcome to the relentlessly upbeat – some argue cult-like – world of WeWork.
Neumann and McKelvey have already built up a sizeable family since launching the business in 2010. Today, WeWork is valued at $20bn (£15.5bn). Thanks to its success attracting investment, most notably from SoftBank, it has been able to expand rapidly, opening 436 locations in 81 cities across 20 countries. In terms of square footage, it is London’s biggest corporate office space occupier, charging between £450 and £900 per month for hot-desking and dedicated office space; vegan snacks and beers are thrown in for free.
However, the business, with its promise of minimalist furniture, quirky extras like foosball tables and ‘woke’ office wall slogans such as ‘Life is just an illusion’ and ‘This is really happening!’, is not without its critics.
One industry insider told Property Week last year: “I have a horrible feeling WeWork is going to hit some rocky times because it has grown so quickly and taken great big chunks of space at enormous rents with rent-free periods that are starting to come off soon and it does worry me that this could be like the dotcom bubble.”
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