WeWork doesn't just have dozens of co-working spaces in every major city across the United States. Over the past four months, its global network of facilities has expanded to include similar spaces in Berlin, Sydney, Shanghai, and Mexico City, among other locations. And it's about to establish a beachhead in India.
The company also runs two so-called co-living facilities, dubbed WeLive, in New York City and Washington, D.C. It's known for not just its spunky designs and proprietary snack vending machine software, but also the fact that it runs physical spaces as if they are simply part of their broader tech platform. The lamp may be bespoke, or the floor plan unique, but it was selected as part of a precise system engineered by WeWork, a system tailored to each new location.
"We don't have a system like, you could see some brands that have 3,000 stores but they are exactly the same. Or franchises that just repeat, repeat," said WeWork co-founder and CCO Miguel McKelvey, onstage at the Business Insider Ignition conference Tuesday. "What we have built is a system that allows us to go into all sorts of buildings all over the world, historic and not."
Once a WeWork facility is up and running, it actually is run in part by software. The 3-D rendering of the space and floor plan created by the company's architects and designers becomes a framework for running that location's desk scheduling. McKelvey and his co-founder Adam Neumann disclosed Tuesday that they'd begun licensing that software to their enterprise clients.
There's been much eyebrow-raising over the pace at which WeWork continues to expand. Especially as the company is increasingly global, with 1,600 mostly American employees being parachuted into cities such as Sydney and Shanghai to rapidly plan and execute launches. It's clearly something Neumann, the startup's CEO, has given much thought to: How fast is too fast?
"We have not found a company that has physically expanded this fast, ever," he said, joking that perhaps the Roman Empire did.
Let's examine the eye-popping numbers Neumann and McKelvey cited Tuesday: