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> Mori Building Co. agreed to lease two floors in its Ark Hills complex and a penthouse space at a recently opened building called Ginza Six.

This is literally some of the most expensive real estate in the city, and office space in central Tokyo is not cheap. I'm amazed that they can find enough tenants to sublet this at a profit.

That said, WeWork does have a Japan-only advantage here, because startups generally find extremely hard to lease office space there: even if they can find a landlord willing to take a punt, they are often required to pay one to two years' rental as deposit. [1] This won't help them scale outside Japan though.

[1] https://www.venturejapan.com/doing-business-in-japan/how-to-...






I used a WeWork credit to work remotely while in Tokyo around a year ago, and the place was packed. Every common seat was filled and I even felt like I was getting in the way because of how often people were going around me to banter or talk shop. Also the internal WeWork forums in Japan seemed to be a genuine social network with heavy Linked-In style participation.

I'm sure some of the hustle and bustle is due to the novelty, much like how WeWork was when it first launched in the US. However, you're right that there is a real lack of flexible month-to-month space in Japan so that may be a lasting advantage.


WeWork might be full but there is co-working space all over the city, some of them hourly or daily, most of them are not full at least when I've visited. There must be 50 or more in Shibuya alone.

I don't know how expensive WeWork is, but the co-working spaces in Shibuya are crazy expensive (like $10 per hour). There are many sento (public baths) around Japan that will let you stay for $10 for the whole day and where you can get a desk and power. When I'm travelling that's what I tend to do. Since I live in the countryside, I'm also used to being able to work at public libraries. I was really surprised that in most libraries I've gone to in big cities they specifically forbid working (or have special sections with high prices).

But anyway, maybe I haven't seen the cheaper Tokyo co-work spaces. If you have some convenient points, I would appreciate a pointer!

Edit: I'm actually in Shibuya every few months. When I'm there I work in the Shizutetsu bus station. If you see a middle aged white guy there programming, come say hi ;-)


When was the last time you looked around at coworking spaces? The market has grown quite a bit, and this has made it easier to find reasonably priced alternatives.

I don't remember the specifics off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are/have been ~300 yen/h ones in for example Shibuya.

There's a smaller one called Open Source Cafe that lies a 5~10 min walk from Shimokitazawa station - that it's off makes it quiet and nice, and they host meetups from time to time.

The market rate for a fixed-desk designated membership seems to lie around 40,000 JPY / month in the hotter areas like Shibuya and Shinjuku, which is ~20$ per day if you only go there for weekdays. I think that's quite reasonable. I think WeWork has been part of driving this change, but it's definitely overpriced as things are now.


This could explain why SoftDank viewed this as an out of the park home run they miscalculated the landscape in other parts of the world it seems

Mayoshi made his gut-call huge initial investment before WeWork opened in Japan

He was charmed - it worked on Benchmark as well but at least they didn't bet the farm in followon


Turns out Adam's reality distortion field was more of a contact buzz

Yeah though the counterpoint is that the monthly hot-desk pricing for WeWork's Tokyo stuff is, according to a calculation I did once, _twice_ the price of just renting an office in the same neighborhood (this was in Dogenzaka). This was a calculation based off of having 15-20 people to deal with.

So maybe it's for small groups? But if there's only 2-6 of you, you could go to the literally hundreds of coworking spaces in Tokyo for 20% of the price of a WeWork hot desk. And use the savings to pay for beer.

The only big-ish group I've heard that used WeWork in its initial growth is PayPay which.... is a joint venture between Yahoo Japan and PayTM.

It feels like they're running on some culture thing, but there's basically no math that makes WeWork a valuable choice. At their price points, it starts getting cheaper to just hire someone full time to manage your office space. And if you have that kind of money you can make the deposit.


It's the same thing in Hong Kong, they have some prime real estate. I wouldn't say their offices are packed, but they're always full.

Startups or anyone in need of office space on a budget just isn't able to afford a proper office, especially if you're looking for something short-term, or unable to commit to 1-2 years.


I wonder if this Japan-only advantage nudged Softbank to overestimate their global advantage.

They will also undoubtedly benefit from Softbank's reputation and connections over there.



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