WeWork is to be rebranded into The We Company in an effort to expand out of the commercial retail space, according to the company's CEO Adam Neumann. This next phase of growth will aim to encompass more aspects of people's lives, beyond just providing the their workspace.
In a recent interview with The Fast Company, Neumann elaborated on the recent activity with the firm's primary investor, SoftBank. The investment body had originally planned to invest up to $20bn in WeWork, meaning the company would reach a valuation of $50bn, which would have funded the firms current and ambitious future growth plans. However, following poor stock performance by some of Softbank's holdings in November 2018, the two parties ended up agreeing to $2bn in new funding, leading to a valuation of $47bn.
Even with funding lower than hoped for, Neumann confirmed he is still going ahead with his ambitious plans for The We Company. In an internal annual conference he revealed plans to create three business divisions: WeWork will carry on in the commercial real estate field; WeLive will see the firm enter the residential housing market; and WeGrow, the vaguest of the three, seems like it will be education adjacent.
However, Neumann did reveal that leasing prices in have fallen in all but two of its locations. This, coupled with fears of an impending economic downturn – something WeWork has yet to weather – has many experts asking if WeWork's business plan is sustainable.
Addressing these questions in The Fast Company interview, Neumann insisted it was actually a good thing: "If the world goes into a real downturn, the one thing you are not going to see us do is be afraid or slow down or take less risks.
"For me, a downturn is not scary. It's an opportunity," he added.