Photo by Eloise Ambursley on Unsplash
More than a decade ago, Adam Neumann identified a gap in the startup market — with it, he lured investors into pouring millions of dollars into his millennial-friendly, free-beer-on-tap, open-floor-plan office-space-rental company, which he called WeWork. “They saw the potential to invest in the way the world was changing,” Neumann told Vanity Fair in 2016. “And the potential size of the market, which is the largest asset class in the world. And if I asked you for the name of one brand that was disrupting this space, I bet you wouldn’t have one name for me.”
WeWork’s fortunes have shifted seismically since its heyday. In 2019, on the brink of bankruptcy, the company called off its plans to IPO, and received a bailout from Japanese investment giant SoftBank. Neumann stepped down from his CEO role and left WeWork, though he remains a shareholder. All this was documented in a 2021 Hulu documentary chronicling WeWork’s rise and fall, a cautionary tale of what can happen to a company with a too-big vision, too much funding, and too much leeway.
When workers left offices in droves last March, the company found itself cutting costs, negotiating lower lease prices with landlords, exiting some of its properties, and minimizing operating expenses. This week, after going public through a merger in October with a SPAC, WeWork released earnings this week — its first time to do so as a public company.
In its prime, WeWork acquired 20 companies — from its 2016 purchase of a large stake in a Spanish company that makes wave pools to architectural design firms. Last week, one of its acquisitions, marketing strategy startup Conductor, raised $150 million in funding, valuing the company at about $500 million, according to Fortune’s Term Sheet. This marks a tremendous comeback for the company, which WeWork acquired in 2018 for about $120 million. Conductor’s founders bought back the company in 2019 for a fraction of that price. The buyback was ultimately a success: Conductor’s CEO told Term Sheet that the team hasn’t had any layoffs, and now has more than 300 employees.
But what happened to some of the other acquisitions WeWork made? The startups that WeWork considered core businesses still operate as WeWork subsidiaries. But some have been spun out and acquired by other companies, while others stopped working altogether. Read on to learn more about some of WeWork’s acquisitions.
The same year, WeWork also acquired workplace real estate platform SpaceIQ. But as the company looked to raise cash later on in 2019, it put SpaceIQ up for sale. In May 2020, specialist workplace management software provider Archibus + Serraview scooped up SpaceIQ.
Managed by Q
WeWork bought office management startup Managed By Q in 2019 for $220 million, but WeWork ended up selling it to Eden, a company that directly competes with Managed by Q, for a reported $25 million in 2020.
When WeWork put Managed By Q up for sale, it also sold events platform Meetup, which operated for two and a half years under WeWork’s ownership. In 2020, Alleycorp and other investors bought Meetup for an undisclosed sum.
WeWork snapped up Teem, which makes software that lets people book meeting rooms, in September 2018 for $100 million, but after WeWork announced its plans to divest some of its acquired companies, iOffice swooped in and took Teem off of WeWork’s hands.
After WeWork bought MissionU, a Bay Area-startup that partnered with companies to train young talent to become their future workforces, its founder became the CEO of WeGrow, WeWork’s alternative K-12 school. After the acquisition, MissionU shut down.
Neumann was such a big fan of surfing that WeWork bought 42% of a surf pool company called Wavegarden that builds wave pools with “game-changing artificial wave technology.” In 2019, Wavegarden was among the non-core businesses WeWork divested itself from, and WeWork wrote the value of its investment in the company down to zero.
WeWork was one of the largest clients of New York-based mobile construction communications startup Fieldlens when it bought the company in 2017. After WeWork announced it was shutting down the Fieldlens service, its mobile app got a second chance when project management company RedTeam announced it had acquired Fieldlens’ tech stack in 2020.