WeWork, one of the most valuable start-ups in the world at nearly US$20 billion, said it will expand its presence in eight more Chinese cities and bring the popular co-working space to Hong Kong’s bustling bar district of Lan Kwai Fong this year.
The New York-based co-working space company last July received US$500 million in funding from China’s Hony Capital and Japan’s SoftBank Group, to launch its China unit and expand its operations beyond Beijing and Shanghai.
It currently has 212 physical locations in 66 cities worldwide and more than 200,000 members spanning from corporate clients to individual workers, including big names like HSBC, Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings.
The eight new mainland cities that will be added to the list range are Xi’an, the capital of central Chinese province Shaanxi, “China’s Silicon Valley” Shenzhen, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Xiamen, Chengdu, Nanjing and Wuhan, according to Christian Lee, managing director of WeWork Asia.
“We launched our first office in Shanghai in July 2016, since then we have opened 11 more buildings in Beijing and Shanghai and we want to keep up with the expansion in China because of the incredible growth and innovation that’s been happening there,” said Lee.
The company is also going to expand in Hong Kong, with “several other locations” to be added in the coming months, including LKF Tower.
The company currently has two co-working spaces in the prime central business areas of Causeway Bay and Wan Chai.
Founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York, the company employs more than 4,000 people worldwide and generates about US$1 billion in revenue a year on average.
While Neumann, who is now chief executive officer, mentioned in July last year that an initial public offering is on the agenda, Lee said there was no specific timeline for the launch yet.
With surging demand from small scale start-ups as well as millennial workers who prefer flexible working hours and a more relaxed work environment in Asia, companies like WeWork have flourished. However, they are also facing an increasingly competitive market, of which China has become an important battle ground because of its huge working population and a number of technology companies. As such, timely and aggressive expansions have become a priority for these companies, who would like to occupy the main cities before their rivals.
China-based co-working space operator Naked Hub said it plans to grow to at least 200 locations by 2020, while UrWork, the largest office-space sharing start-up in China, said it was targeting 10 cities globally, with Europe’s first batch of sites to open in London, Paris and Berlin in the second half of 2018.