Shared Office Spaces

Office-sharing startup WeWork files for stock market listing

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WEWORK, the fast-growing office-sharing startup, said on Monday it had filed documents for a stock market listing to help fuel further expansion.

The New York-based firm valued at some US$47 billion by private investors and operating in some 600 cities worldwide, said it filed its registration confidentially last December with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

The confidential filing allows the company to begin the listing process before divulging key financial and business information.

"This process will enable WeWork to make the decision to become publicly traded, subject to market and other conditions," WeWork said in a statement.

WeWork has taken the lead in the co-working space and in the process is disrupting the office and real estate market with smartly designed offices, often with free-flowing beer and coffee.

Started in 2010, WeWork has hundreds of thousands of customers from individual entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies needing temporary or permanent office space.

The monthly deals can be particularly attractive to independent workers who do not want to make a long-term commitment.

But WeWork also rents to employees of large firms such as IBM where regional offices are less convenient.

In January, Japanese tech giant SoftBank invested some US$2 billion in the company as it rebranded itself as "The We Company".

WeWork offered no details on how much money it would seek to raise, its valuation or the timing of its offering.

But the news comes amid a wave of listings from Silicon Valley "unicorns", or startups worth at least US$1 billion, including Lyft, Pinterest, Slack and Uber.

In 2017, WeWork agreed to buy the Lord & Taylor flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in a sign of the disruption of the real estate market.

Separately, it was announced in Singapore on Tuesday that WeWork will open its second WeWork Labs location at 380 Jalan Besar in May.

WeWork has also been recognised as a Startup SG Founder Accredited Mentor Partner (AMP) by government agency Enterprise Singapore.

The Startup SG Founder scheme provides mentorship and startup capital grant to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas, with ESG providing up to S$30,000 by matching S$3 for every dollar raised.

Industry leaders as appointed AMPs identify qualifying applicants based on the uniqueness of business concept, feasibility of business model, strength of management team, and potential market value.

Source: Business Times, 1 May 2019

State Courts Towers to offer co-working space for small law firms

THE Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) will unveil a co-working space for small law firms at the upcoming State Courts Towers along Havelock Road.

Clicks @ State Courts, which stands for collaborative law, innovative co-creation and knowledge-sharing, will open in the first quarter of 2020, the same time State Courts Towers is expected to be operational.

The law academy hopes that by helping small law firms cut operational costs and inefficiencies through providing shared amenities and facilities - such as meeting rooms and office equipment, these firms can focus on adopting technology at their law practices. In turn, they can continue to provide accessible and affordable legal services to the man-in-the-street.

Source: Business Times, 9 Mar 2019

WeWork aims for mid-sized firms with expanded 'HQ' service

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HQ by WeWork is targeting 11 overseas markets including London and Shanghai and other US hot spots such as Boston and Denver

WEWORK is expanding an effort to retain mid-sized businesses which had been leaving the shared office space manager after they grew past the small-company phase, and to catch up with rivals already catering to these clients.

HQ by WeWork, launched in San Francisco and New York in August to provide enhanced services for businesses with 11 to 250 employees, is targeting 11 overseas markets including London and Shanghai and other US hot spots such as Boston and Denver, said executives at WeWork, a unit of The We Company.

The US$42 billion New York-based "unicorn" in 2010 helped pioneer "coworking", or shared desk-space, with a focus on startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers.

WeWork has been losing clients as they grew to more than a dozen or so employees and found that sharing office space no longer suited their needs.

"Those companies were within the platform, but we weren't going out of our way to serve them," David Fano, chief growth officer at WeWork, said in an interview. "Some of the companies were saying, 'Look, we really just want our own space'."

The new service aims to help fill that gap between WeWork's signature coworking platform and its offering for large companies with more than 1,000 employees.

"That's our ultimate dream, that companies stay with us for life. From being a single-person startup to the day that they're Airbnb," Mr Fano said.

HQ by WeWork marks a departure from its coworking model of shared space as companies seek to build their own identity and environment, a service that Knotel, but few others operating flexible office space, has seized on exclusively.

Flexible office space gained its name from shorter-term leases than landlords typically offer, and their operators build out spaces that have services and are more fashionable.

Minimum leases for HQ by WeWork are two years and companies gain Wi-Fi, IT and audiovisual systems, along with access to WeWork's global network of shared space and conference rooms.

Knotel recently said it has completed more than 2 million square feet of deals in Manhattan, or double that of HQ by WeWork.

Industrious, a rival flex-space startup, in January said teams of 20 or more people make up its fastest-growing segment.

The initiative marks a shift where WeWork is no longer seen as taking incremental space from landlords with its coworking model but is competing with them for traditional clients even as they still lease the property owner's space.

About 13 per cent of HQ by WeWork members are previous clients. WeWork was unable to say how many potential HQ clients had left its operations.

But WeWork expects the HQ segment to account for some 70,000 of a projected overall membership base of 800,000 by year's end, or double WeWork's 400,000 members in January.

A member is any individual working in a WeWork location.

WeWork last year became the largest private leasor of office space in Manhattan and operates almost 100 sites in New York City. WeWork told bond investors in November it was on track to post revenue of US$2.3 billion in 2018.

"The marketplace is being disrupted, the most telling sign for that is landlords are starting to bring their own product into the market," said Dom Harding, head of Workthere Americas, a new unit of brokerage Savills that provides consulting for companies seeking flexible office space.

Many mainstream real estate companies, such as developer Tishman Speyer, brokerage CBRE Group and Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, have spawned their own flexible office units to tap the demand for shorter-term leases.

HQ by WeWork has grown to 30 locations with almost one million sq ft under lease in its two launch cities.

The unit expects to have 270 locations open worldwide by the end of 2019 as it also targets office markets in Berlin, Toronto, Amsterdam, Jakarta, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.

"WeWork continues to take bigger bites out of the existing tenant base instead of just pulling people out of coffee shops," said Alexander Snyder, a senior analyst at real estate-focused CenterSquare Investment Management in Philadelphia. REUTERS

Source: Business Times, 2 Mar 2019

Singapore co-working space company JustCo plans 100 centres in Asia by 2020

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CO-WORKING space operator JustCo plans to set up 100 centres by 2020 in Asia and is looking to acquire firms that complement its operations, the company's chief executive officer Kong Wan Sing said.

"We are tapping into companies' need for flexibility," he told Reuters in an interview in Bangkok on Thursday.

JustCo opened its first co-working centre outside Singapore in Thailand this year with plans to add offices in Jakarta and Shanghai by year-end, towards a goal of 50 centres in Asia by 2019, each with minimum space of 3,000 square metres, he said.

Corporations make up 60-70 per cent of clients, Mr Kong said, unlike other operators who offer workspace to entrepreneurs, freelancers and companies.

Demand for co-working spaces in the world's largest cities has surged, drawing billions of dollars in capital into the sector.

Last year, New York-based WeWork acquired Singapore's Spacemob and planned to invest US$500 million in South-east Asia and South Korea.

Mr Kong, who founded JustCo in 2015, said that curating a big community of members through its large spaces will help it beat competitors.

JustCo will launch an application this year with plans for an e-payment platform later, he said.

In May, Frasers Property and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC agreed on a US$177 million partnership with JustCo.

Frasers Property is owned by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.

Part of the capital will be used for expansion and also to "beef up our IT and design capabilities", Mr Kong said. "We are looking for ideal acquisition targets . . . (with) more applications, tech and design that can help us."

In addition to capital, JustCo would have "immediate access" to GIC and Frasers' properties in Asia, helping it to quickly expand, he added.

Another source of revenue is management fees. JustCo announced earlier this week that it would manage half of Verizon Communication's 20,000 square feet (1,858 sq m) head office in Singapore.

Last year, Thai developer Sansiri took a 6.09 per cent stake in JustCo in Series B funding for US$12 million, valuing the company at US$200 million.

Mr Kong declined to comment on the firm's valuation after the agreement with GIC and Frasers Property.

"We will continue to do our rounds," he said, adding that an initial public offering could happen in three to five years. REUTERS

Source: Business Times, 2 Jun 2018

Co-working operator IWG to open flagship space at TripleOne Somerset

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Global co-working operator IWG has leased over 35,000 sq ft of space at Perennial Real Estate’s TripleOne Somerset to operate its Spaces co-working concept. IWG owns and operates co-working brands like Regus, Spaces, No18, Basepoint, Open Office, and Signature. It operates about 3,300 locations in over 110 countries.

Spaces is a lifestyle co-working concept from Amsterdam. The site will be Spaces’ flagship facility and it’s largest when it commences operation in mid-2019. It will occupy two floors, Level 3 and 13, and will comprise co-working spaces, meeting rooms, private offices, conferencing facilities, and event spaces. It will also have a Business Club which will be accessible to its 3 million Spaces’ members.

TripleOne Somerset is currently undergoing a $120 million enhancement program to augment its retail offerings and incorporate about 32,000 sq ft of new medical suites. “Spaces’ unique event spaces are set to be great venues for medical and healthcare-related launches and events, which tie in well with one of the core themes of the development”, says Annie Lee, deputy CEO (Singapore) of Perennial. The new two-storey retail podium is expected to receive its Temporary Occupancy Permit by end-June, and works are expected to complete by 2019.

Source: EdgeProp, 3 My 2018

Singapore co-working pioneer Impact Hub rebrands as Found, to open 3rd space in Amoy Street

SINGAPORE - Co-working space operator Impact Hub Singapore - said to be a pioneer in the business here - has rebranded as Found.

Found said on Wednesday (May 2) that the rebrand concludes the company's tenure with the global Impact Hub network, and marks its next steps in establishing itself as an independent, home-grown and South-east Asian brand.

Found added that it continues to be supported by longstanding partners and investors, including Lee Han Shih, the Pangestu family of Barito Group and RB Group. The company has built a community of 2,500 members and alumni, who collectively have raised more than S$380 million.

As part of the rebrand, Found will deepen its Members Growth services, which include coaching, mentoring and partnership programmes for its entrepreneurs. Since the company's founding in 2012, it has supported more than 75 organisations, such as DBS Bank, NTUC, P&G, Cartier, Liberty Mutual and JP Morgan, in their corporate innovation agendas.

Found will also extend its innovation-building capabilities to more firms based in Singapore and South-east Asia.

To kick-start its corporate innovation expansion plans, Found will launch a third co-working space in Amoy Street. The new 22,000 sq ft flagship campus, slated to open in September, will feature a 250-capacity event space, dedicated team rooms for corporate innovation teams and flexible spaces for fast-growing businesses.

Found said: "It will be home to a 50:50 mix of corporate innovation teams and high-growth start-ups - the first of its kind for any innovation hub."

Source: Straits Times, 2 May 2018

The Working Capitol to exit Robinson Road

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From the outside, it is business as usual at The Working Capitol, the co-working space that occupies 11 of 19 floors at 140 Robinson Road. The freehold commercial tower was developed by WyWy Development and was originally known as Crown @ Robinson. Since The Working Capitol became the anchor tenant, it secured naming rights to the building.

Launched in March last year, the 55,000 sq ft co-working space was the largest in the CBD then. This marked the second location for The Working Capitol, following the success of its flagship space at 1 Keong Saik Road, which was launched in March 2015. The Working Capitol was co-founded by siblings, Ben and Saranta Gattie.

However, just a year after opening, there has been a change of management control over the operations at The Working Capitol on Robinson Road. The master lease at 140 Robinson Road is held by The Working Capitol (Robinson), which in turn, sub-lets the co-working space to members as well as provides them with services in that location.

“Regrettably, we ran into disagreements with the general contractor for the Robinson Road fitout, Tarkus Interiors, and despite months of negotiation and significant payments being made, a winding up application was eventually made and a winding up order was issued against The Working Capitol (Robinson),” says Ben Gattie, CEO of The Working Capitol in an email response to questions from EdgeProp Singapore. “We have since appealed against the winding up order.”

The effect of the winding up order means that control of The Working Capitol (Robinson) has been placed in the hands of Don Ho Associates, who will now administer the business in the interests of the creditors. “For the time being, operations at The Working Capitol on Robinson Road will continue as per usual,” says Gattie.

Avoiding Disruption

However, some members who spoke on condition of anonymity to EdgeProp Singapore are concerned about their membership at The Working Capitol on Robinson Road. “I was recently offered six months rent free by a competitor across the road,” says a member who requested not to be named. “It was a tempting offer, but I’m choosing to stay put.” He took up a hot desk at The Working Capitol on Robinson Road last year as he liked the ”vibrant community” there. He has another six months on his remaining contract at The Working Capitol.

Gattie is aware that some of his members may be unsettled by recent events. “We strongly believe that the best solution for all involved parties would be to secure a strong, well-funded operator focused on Grade A office buildings to manage the operations at [140] Robinson Road,” he says. “This would guarantee the level of service that all our members and tenants deserve while ensuring that the creditors could be repaid in full.”

His top priority is to avoid disruption to members and tenants and to facilitate a smooth transfer of the master lease, he adds. “We have pledged our full co-operation to Don Ho Associates in negotiations with interested parties.”

In fact, The Working Capitol (Robinson) is close to breaking even, with over 70% occupancy. “We remain convinced that the business is viable on a long-term basis, but not necessarily one we are best suited to carry on,” concedes Gattie. “Our forte remains in heritage buildings with a distinctive character where we can contribute to the neighbourhood.”

Creating ‘a Keong Saik campus’

According to Gattie, the situation at The Working Capitol (Robinson) is confined to the premises at 140 Robinson Road. “There is no impact on The Working Capitol operations on Keong Saik Road,” he assures. “With our withdrawal from Robinson Road, we will now devote our full attention to enhancing our services to members at Keong Saik and at our new neighbouring premises at 89 Neil Road.”

Located directly opposite 1 Keong Saik Road, the new project at 89 Neil Road will add another 30,000 sq ft of space in the premises there. Gattie calls the neighbourhood “our Keong Saik campus”. In addition to 1 Keong Saik Road, he has since expanded into the immediate neighbouring units at 3 Keong Saik Road and 120 Neil Road. The addition of 89 Neil Road space will bring The Working Capitol's total operations in Keong Saik area to over 70,000 sq ft. 

Gattie intends to accommodate much bigger teams in the new co-working space there. For instance, about 15,000 sq ft of space on the third floor of 89 Neil Road will house anchor tenants such as a multi-billion-dollar MNC, which has grown from five staff to 16, and now to 90 people. The remaining 15,000 sq ft at 89 Neil Road will be used to expand the offerings for members, including a rooftop event space, new F&B outlets and other lifestyle options. “We are working on some exciting new-to-market concepts, which we hope will further enhance the experience of both our members and our surrounding community,” he says.

Greater differentiation

As the co-working business continues to evolve, there is a greater need for operators to differentiate themselves in terms of industry exposure, experiences, services and communities catered to, says Sulian Claire Tan-Wijaya, executive director of retail and lifestyle at Savills Singapore. “For example, The Great Room has a more luxury hospitality feel compared with the more youthful millennial WeWork vibe,” she says.

Increasingly, there is a convergence of private members club concepts, where like-minded industry leaders congregate to network, collaborate and socialise under one roof, adds Tan-Wijaya. Straits Clan and 1880 are examples of this. “In some cases, there is a certain level of prestige to be associated with a more upmarket members business club,” she says. Therefore, The Working Capitol’s strategy to now focus on its “campus” at the Keong Saik area and create its own feel and community is the way to differentiate itself, says Tan-Wijaya.

Source: EdgeProp, 16 Apr 2018

WeWork set to grow Singapore footprint to over 300,000 sq ft

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It is said to have leased space at City House and Mapletree Anson and is in advanced talks for space in Suntec City, 8 Cross Street

US-based co-working space provider WeWork, which launched its operations in Singapore only last December, is set to expand its presence.

The Business Times understands that it has signed up at several new locations - including City House and Mapletree Anson - and is in advanced discussions at others, such as 8 Cross Street and Suntec Tower 5.

If things go according to plan, WeWork's footprint in Singapore would grow to over 300,000 sq ft. When contacted, its spokesman said: "We do not have any announcements at this stage."

Co-working spaces are open-plan office spaces offered to users on a desk-by-desk basis. Facilities such as pantries and meeting rooms are shared. Such spaces are sold by membership on a daily or monthly basis, but some co-working operators are entering into longer-term arrangements with big corporations that may require space for special projects on short notice without having to run up huge capital expenses.

WeWork's space in City House in Robinson Road is said to take up four floors, totalling about 34,000 sq ft on the lower floors of the 23-storey building. This is part of the space now occupied by building owner City Developments Limited (CDL) for its headquarters.

CDL will move its headquarters to the group's flagship office building Republic Plaza in Raffles Place later this year, to take up some of the space vacated by tenants such as Japanese bank MUFG, Itochu and ING, which have moved to newer buildings.

CDL made improvements such as lift upgrades, at City House last year.

At Mapletree Anson, WeWork is leasing a floor of about 20,000 sq ft that Lendlease vacated last year to move to a co-working space in OUE Downtown Gallery in Shenton Way; this move is for the interim, until Lendlease moves to Paya Lebar Quarter. WeWork is close to wrapping a deal to lease the top two floors of Suntec Tower 5, more than 30,000 sq ft in all. The space, which takes up Level 17 and the mezzanine area on Level 18, used to be occupied by UBS. The bank will retain a presence in the same tower, in addition to its premises in One Raffles Quay and Hansapoint in Changi Business Park.

Talk in the market is that WeWork is also in advanced talks to take four floors totalling 60,000 sq ft at 8 Cross Street.

Last month, Frasers Commercial Trust announced that WeWork had committed to a lease of about 28,700 sq ft in one of China Square Central's heritage shophouse blocks. WeWork will take up the space in phases, starting with 16,800 sq ft in the second half of this year.

WeWork, which launched its operations at Beach Centre, opens its second location at 71 Robinson Road this quarter; it will also begin operations next year in Funan's North Office block, where it has leased 40,000 sq ft.

Co-working operators helped to support demand for Singapore office space last year; the trend is expected to continue this year, but market watchers expect a shakeup among the space-providers at some stage. They range from homegrown start-ups to regional players; a handful of international names like Regus and WeWork make up the rest of the field.

JLL's head of Singapore markets Andrew Tangye, commented that the growth in the co-working space sector has been evident in nearly all global cities in the past couple of years. "Interest in this space taps into the trend of more flexible styles of working, fostering greater collaboration and creativity.

"Demand is coming not just from start-ups, but large organisations looking to house some of their teams in alternative work spaces.

"While co-working space has been well received here and demand is expected to grow further, the operators that will be successful and continue to grow are the ones that are able to differentiate their offerings and show value to customers. Those who fail to do so may be able to compete only on cost."

Among the leases tracked by CBRE Research, more than 500,000 sq ft of space in Singapore was signed by co-working operators in 2017.

Michael Tay, the executive director for advisory and transaction in the property consulting group, said: "This sector is going through a phase of exponential growth, which naturally generates concerns about the ability of the Singapore market to absorb this influx of co-working space."

He estimates that about 97 per cent of office occupiers in Singapore are still committed to conventional leases of, say, three or five years.

"In the longer term, the success of this sector will hinge on the ability of co-working operators to succeed in converting occupiers on conventional leases to take up more co-working space."

Source: Business Times, 8 Feb 2018

Co-working space startup WeWork calls Funan home

SINGAPORE - The manager of CapitaLand Mall Trust, Capitaland Mall Trust Management Limited, announced it has secured its first office tenant in Funan. Co-working start-up WeWork is leasing 40,000 sq ft of space in the integrated development.

WeWork's space will be located across two floors at Funan's North Office block, which is linked to the retail section of the development.

WeWork's co-working space will feature a smart office with facial recognition turnstiles and optional card-less entry into the office, said Tony Tan, chief executive of the trust manager.

Among other facilities at Funan, workers will also have access to "video-based smart car parking facilities, a 24-hour drive-through click-and-collect, hands-free shopping service using robotics and app-based booking of all the facilities within the development", added Mr Tan.

The upcoming Funan development features 500,000 sq ft of retail space, two Grade A office blocks, and The Ascott Limited's lyf brand of co-living serviced residence, all linked via a direct underpass to City Hall MRT interchange.

Amenities will include a Golden Village cineplex, a gym, a futsal court, a swimming pool and a 55-lane rock-climbing facility. According to CapitaLand, it will also be the first commercial building to allow cycling through the building with a dedicated indoor cycling path.

The site is slated for completion in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Source: Straits Times, 14 Dec 2017

Workspace firm JustCo merging with China's naked Hub

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Homegrown co-working space operator JustCo is merging with China’s naked Hub in a move that is expected to result in the largest co-working operator in Asia.

From their estimated combined footprints of 140,000 square metres in gross floor area across 41 locations in nine cities in six countries by end-2017, the merged entity plans to have 194 locations across the region by 2020.

This merger is coming at a time when the co-working industry is growing at an exponential rate of 71 per cent from 2007 to 2015. It is projected to grow 68 per cent annually from 2016 to 2018 globally, according to Statista.

JustCo founder and CEO Kong Wan Sing said: “A merger with naked Hub is timely and makes perfect sense. With JustCo spearheading further expansion in South-east Asia and naked Hub taking care of North Asia, we will become the pre-eminent pan-Asian player in this space.”

There merger entails the gathering of 32,000 members across over 8,000 companies in one single platform in Asia by end-2017, Mr Kong added.

Grant Horsfield, founder of the naked Group, said “This deal will bring together two regional powerhouses in the Asian co-working scene, allowing us to break the US$100 million run-rate revenue before the end of the year.”

naked Group’s hospitality business of operating lifestyle and luxury resorts and JustGroup’s serviced offices business are not part of the merger.

JustCo currently operates co-working spaces in nine locations in Singapore and two in Shanghai. Within the next six to 12 months, JustCo will open in Jakarta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Manila, bringing its total locations to 20 by the end of this year.

naked Hub, which was conceived in November 2015 and now operates in 11 naked Hubs in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, is expected to reach 21 locations by year-end.

Like many co-working space operators, JustCo and naked Hub have been expanding rapidly with the backing of private funds.

JustCo has been able to double amount of co-working space it operates over the past year with funding from French private equity firm Tikehau Capital Partners and Singapore-based Pinetree Capital Partners.

“The plan for JustCo to merge with another leader in the industry would mean good news for our private investors,” Mr Kong said.

“JustCo will stand at a higher valuation and have the ability to access a bigger pool of resources that will help pave the way for our upcoming expansion in Asia.”

naked Hub win november closed a US$33 million Series B funding led by Hong Kong’s Gaw Capital.

There merged entity is now expecting to close another round of funding as soon as August- this is expected to raise over US$200 million from investors including China Renaissance.

Source: 19 Jul 2017, Business Times