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Three Indispensable Reminders to Apply to Business Growth


Three Indispensable Reminders to Apply to Business Growth

David Gross shares an evergreen post and case study on WeWork’s accelerated IPO and how it contributed to business growth.

The Startup Muse’s recent articles on WeWork Founder Adam Neumann and WeWork’s accelerated IPO got me thinking. In the WeWork story, are there indispensable reminders — i.e., reminders that apply regardless of industry, revenue, or stage of maturity — for all business leaders? I found five and cover three in this article, the first in a two-part series. 

1) Business Definition & Focus: Where Will We Play?

This question is one of the most frequently asked questions in business. It’s also one of the easiest one to get wrong. When a company loses focus on its core business, the operational and financial impacts are devastating.

At its inception, WeWork took Class-B and -C office space, made it hip, and then subleased space at unreserved “hot desks” and in dedicated offices to freelancers and startups. By providing a hip and affordable alternative to working at home, residing at Starbucks, or renting the dreaded single office suite, WeWork quickly developed a cult following. What business is WeWork in today? As the partial list of WeWork milestones below illustrates, it’s hard to tell.

In April 2016, WeWork launched a new co-living product, WeLive, that provides dormitory/chic apartment living.

In March 2017, WeWork partnered with the private equity firm Rhone Group. The parties formed WeWork Property Advisors and launched four real estate investment funds. WeWork Property Advisors raised $400+ million in its first year and a half and provided WeWork with immediate access to low-cost capital and expertise for property acquisitions.

In April 2017, WeWork launched WeWork Services Store to serve as an “integrated hub for business services…It streamlines the process of finding, managing, and purchasing the various services that a growing company needs.”

In October 2017, WeWork launched Rise by We, a gym and spa, and acquired the Flatiron School, which offers online and offline courses on coding.

In December 2017, WeWork leased an entire Class-A office tower in Shanghai and created a 290,000 square-foot co-working space — its largest ever.

In March 2018, WeWork acquired Conductor, a digital marketing firm.

In June 2018, WeWork launched WeMRKT to sell “many products made by WeWork members, including healthy snacks, office necessities, and branded apparel.”

In 2018, WeWork launched Headquarters (HQ) by WeWork to serve businesses with 11 to 250 employees and Powered by We, a “full-service strategy, real estate, and technology offering” for enterprises with 1,000+ employees.

In September 2018, WeWork launched WeWork Space Services to “represent companies and help them find office space outside of WeWork’s locations.” Stated another way, WeWork entered the tenant representation business.

By the end of 2018, WeWork’s enterprise clients accounted for 32 percent of WeWork’s membership base, up from 23 percent in the prior year.

In February 2019, WeWork Property Advisors formed a joint venture with Hudson Bay and took control of Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in New York. WeWork Property Advisors valued the building at $850 million, $150 million (or 20%) above the second-place bid. The transaction took over a year to close due to financing difficulties.

In May 2019, WeWork Property Advisors merged with ARK, a new $2.9 billion investment fund, and WeWork became ARK’s majority shareholder. A Canadian pension fund committed $1.0 billion to the fund.


Key points include:

  • Business Definition & Focus: Where Will We Play?
  • Scalability: As Revenue Increases, What Happens to Costs & Margins?
  • Cash is King! Do We Have Enough?


Read the full article, We(Not)Work? Three Indispensable Reminders for All Business Leaders, on