WeWork coming to Atlanta will not change our city overnight, but the results will expedite fundamental shifts that are already underway in how people work, where people work and how Atlanta is viewed nationally and globally. I would like to assume everyone reading this newsletter knows what WeWork is but, for those who don’t, the shared workspace company is way more than just more coworking space. WeWork, started in 2010, is now valued at $16 billion and counts among its investors JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Benchmark Capital and a long list of others. With over 50 locations already in operation and 45,000 members, they are currently the largest lessee of real estate in Manhattan and plan to be the same nationally in the next few years.
There is no denying that companies like Industrious, Roam and DeskHub have confirmed the demand for alternative workplaces for Atlanta companies. Thought leaders like David Cummings, Michael Tavani, Allen Nance and Paul Judge have created ecosystems bolstered not only by demand for space, but for what Cummings calls “engineered serendipity”. Therefore, WeWork is not so much revolutionary for Atlanta, but it brings a level of scale and expertise in design, programming and services that will bring more companies into the alternative workplace world. The Buckhead location alone is over 83,000 square feet and is able to accommodate companies ranging from one person to 100 people. WeWork’s scale allows them to offer discounted payroll services and healthcare benefits. Finally, being a member of WeWork gives you access not only to physical space all over the world, but creates a page for your company on the WeWork app within your vertical to help you buy and sell goods and services across the global platform.
WeWork’s focus on the locations for their communities in Atlanta continues to prove what tech firms and even some large corporations know about attracting talent over the next decade. Critical elements for WeWork include active streetscapes lined with retail, buildings that can facilitate the creation of a unique work environment and proximity to transit. As the best employers chase the best employees back into the urban core all over the country, nobody knows the elements of what matters to the next generation better than WeWork.
WeWork not only has the capital and a proven business model, but also the trends in workplace are flooding towards them. WeWork’s arrival and expansion in Atlanta will not only help accelerate the growth of our own entrepreneurial ecosystem, but will bring talent, investors and elevate our city’s brand as one of the world’s most innovative cities.