Next up: tracking people as they move around offices. Yes, really.
This workplace of the future sounds creepy
WeWork's latest acquisition is a small software company with 24 employees. Euclid is a spatial analytics platform. A spatial ana-what? Something to do with space? Yes, but not the same kind of space Elon Musk is after.
Euclid's website says the company is "focused on redefining the workplace experience of the future." Translation: optimizing every aspect of the physical workplace so workers are their most productive.
Euclid does this by tracking how people move around physical spaces. Its technology can track how many people showed up to a meeting or to that after-work happy hour. The company can see where employees tend to congregate and for how long. It's all done over Wi-Fi.
WeWork to become the Google Analytics for space
WeWork's chief product officer, Shiva Rajaraman, told TechCrunch WeWork is moving toward becoming the "Google Analytics for space" to make sure rooms are used most efficiently.
The positive spin on this technology is that it could inform decisions about how offices get designed. If a company better understands how different meeting rooms are being overbooked or underutilized, it could make improvements. This could mean fewer room-booking snafus that today's office workers know all too well.
Concerns about privacy and data collection
But tracking employees as they go about their workdays presents obvious privacy concerns, too. Frankly, it's creepy. It feels particularly Big Brother-y -- especially if employees aren't aware it's happening.
Rajaraman assured TechCrunch that the technology would not capture anything personal or identifiable about people. "We're looking at the aggregate level to understand how space is being used," he explained. Still, it doesn't feel good. Even if data about you is being mashed together with other people's data, you're still being tracked to some extent.
WeWork gets into the software biz
It's clear from WeWork's announcement about the Euclid acquisition that the company intends to monetize this software. It can sell it to companies that don't even work inside WeWork locations.
When combined with the room booking and analytics software built by Teem, another acquisition WeWork made last year, WeWork is now poised to do more than lease desks and offices.
To further alleviate concerns that WeWork would too quickly try to monetize this technology, Rajaraman told TechCrunch the company will experiment in-house first. He called out Shanghai, Tel Aviv, New York, and San Francisco as locations that have growing pains with space. So it sounds like WeWork might try out Euclid's analytics technology first in those locations.
Leveraging Euclid's retail expertise
Before the acquisition, Euclid's clients included brick-and-mortar stores, retailers, and restaurants. Companies can gather analytics on people moving about their business using the Wi-Fi on their phones. In its nine-year existence, Euclid has raised $43.6 million, TechCrunch reports. WeWork is not disclosing how much it paid to acquire the company.