WeWork and AMEX are currently offer a deal when if you get an Amex Business Platinum card, they give you unlimited hot desk access to any WeWork in the world for a year. You can work for an entire year for free (even in super high cost places like NYC, SF, London, etc.), even if you are already a paying WeWork member. All my friends and I cancelled our WeWork memberships and moved to AMEX. It's saving me >$6k this year and I get a better product than I had as a paying user.
This has led me to visit a lot of WeWork locations:
- In my experience, most of the WeWorks in the world don't have that many "coworkers". Most of the people in the buildings are at traditional companies renting office space. The companies renting space are frequently giant corps like Netflix or Facebook getting spill-over space when their main office is full. (There are exceptions like the WeWorks in downtown SF where there are lots of coworkers, but it is not the norm.)
- WeWork places so little value on the income from shared desk "coworkers" that they will give away the product completely for free as a loss leader to grow the brand and entice more people to try out the product and rent a larger space.
- Entire WeWork locations will just "shut down" to the public if WeWork manages to lease all the space to a company like Facebook. See 125 Shaftesbury Avenue in London. Obviously they care more about leasing to a big company than running shared office space.
My take is that they are trying to be Starbucks for renting office space. This product is very convenient and it has a lot of value, but I don't think it is a "tech company" and I don't think it justifies the current valuation level because the margins aren't there. But who knows what the market will think.
But two things are crystal clear to me:
1. I would get out of the coworking business if I was trying to compete with WeWork. I couldn't possibly offer the quality of product (pretty good) at their price point (as low as $0) unless I had unlimited piles of VC money to burn.
2. If you are doing independent consulting or remote dev and don't need traditional fixed office space, you might as well help them spend their VC money by using their space.