I have been a skeptical voice on We Work since the beginning — meaning since I read their S-1, understood their business model, and learned about Adam Neumann, who I accused of being a toxic force on the company as a leader and a manager.
This was long before the guy got fired. Never liked him. Thought he was a poseur. Real estate as a service, my ass.
What I am not skeptical about is the market for co-working spaces as a real estate product. I think they are good.
In my personal real estate career, we had some vacancy in a suburban mid-rise office building and converted it to what was then a co-working space. We used to use the term “office suites.” It turned out very well for us.
1. We collected (earned) 2X the market rental after expensing all operating costs. Meaning when we added up the individual small office rentals, subtracted all the costs — we got twice the rent we would have gotten had we rented it to an arms length, independent third party.
2. We sold the business, as an operating entity subject to a lease, to a third party, Regus.
3. We got a solid tenant in Regus paying a slightly above market rent and did not have to spend a penny in tenant improvements.
This was back in the 1990s.