WeWork wants to make its business look more like cable TV than real estate

Excerpts from an article by Sarah Kessler in Quartz

WeWork, which operates more than 135 locations in 14 countries, essentially does rent arbitrage: It signs long-term commercial leases, divides the space into tiny offices, and rents them, month by month, at a premium.

In a February 2016 interview, CEO Artie Minson told me that his vision for WeWork involved a business model that does look like a cable company. He called it “programming for real estate.” Today, WeWork launched the first iteration of a platform that enables the idea.

Cable companies don’t make TV shows—they build infrastructure. But they make their money selling subscriptions to the TV shows that their infrastructure allows you to watch. WeWork rents office space to entrepreneurs and companies, but it aspires to package and sell the services they need to run their businesses from that office space.“Today, we have space services,” Minson said. “We have printing, phones, wifi.” A good way to understand where WeWork might attempt to expand next, he said, would be to think, “‘What support services do people need?’ Travel, software, life services? Do they need credit card, banking, wellness, education, services? They could need help with insurance, payroll, digital and so on.” “We’re going to build some of this,” Minson said. “We’ll buy some of it, we’ll create a platform, and we’ll partner.”

That platform is an app store, currently available only in the US, through which members can purchase more than 100 services, including Office 360, Slack, and Avis car rentals, often at a discount. It is similar to a library of discounts that already existed in WeWork’s members’ app–but with a better interface and one potentially significant change.For products offered by a handful of its partners, WeWork will bill members directly. In the way that a cable subscriber might add HBO to her cable bill, WeWork members can now sign up to have services such as Upwork freelancing added to their monthly WeWork invoices.

Read the full article on Quartz

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