WeWork’s expansion into Asia is in full swing. From our checks, it looks like branches in Singapore and Tokyo will open soon. So far, the company has made forays in Asian cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Bangalore.
The US-based office sharing startup is hunting for community managers who will “maintain 100 percent occupancy, achieve sales target goals, and manage churn” – among many goals – at its buildings in the two new locations, according to fresh job posts on recruitment platforms such as LinkedIn. It also already registered a company in Singapore, showed a check we did on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority or ACRA.
We’ve contacted WeWork to get more details.
WeWork’s destination picks are no surprise. Singapore is one of the world’s top business and startup hubs, surpassing its peers in terms of investor funding. At the same time, its office rental rates rank among the highest in the world. That gives WeWork a ready market of fledgling startups and entrepreneurs who want to save on rent or are seeking flexible lease contracts.
In Japan, a startup boom is expected after the government vowed to put young tech firms at the center of the country’s economic growth strategy.
Too many players
Despite the potential, WeWork is diving into a crowded industry. Co-working spaces have mushroomed over the years, especially in Singapore. A Tech in Asia list counted about 20 players in the city-state two years ago, and new players have emerged since. In Japan, there are hundreds.
In terms of market size, a 2016 Cushman & Wakefield study cited by Flyspaces – only one of the regional players WeWork would be competing with – puts total co-working office stock at 2 million square meters in the “mature markets” of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia, with total revenue of US$1.8 billion per year.
Yet WeWork doesn’t seem to be bothered by competition at all. Apart from its strong brand, the company said it has a playbook that has worked in previous overseas expansions. It’s also pretty confident about the depth of tech talent in its network – a resource that could prove very appealing to companies.
Valued at US$16 billion, WeWork is arguably the biggest player in the co-working space, covering 21 cities in the US plus 20 others around the world. With US$1.4 billion in funding – and another rumored US$4 billion from SoftBank that’s still in negotiation – the company counts over 80,000 members. Bagging the mega round from Softbank would fuel its ambitions to conquer Asia, and make it harder for any other player to compete.
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