We Co. Chief Executive Adam Neumann likes to say that office space is for WeWork what books were for Amazon.com Inc. —just the beginning.
His vision spans schools, gyms and retail. He even boasted that his rental-apartment venture WeLive would become bigger than WeWork.
That vision remains far off. After investing hundreds of millions of dollars in more than half a dozen side businesses like education, wellness and short-term apartment rentals, We has struggled to demonstrate that any of them are the fast-growth profit centers the company had envisioned.
Some of them stalled soon after We announced them. The company has scaled back the expansion of others, former employees with knowledge of the businesses say. WeLive manages only two apartment buildings, with a third one planned, compared with more than 500 locations world-wide for the core co-working business.
In 2018, the company spent at least $164 million on businesses other than co-working, but it made only $124 million in revenue from all ancillary ventures, according to a recent public filing.
Some analysts believe this is fine. The office industry alone offers more than enough room for growth, they say. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. put We’s valuation around $23 billion, and in an August note wrote that We’s “business model is sound and the pace of growth phenomenal.”
And efforts closer to We’s core business have had better results. The company has had rapid growth in its “enterprise” division, where it woos large corporations as tenants. Those large companies now make up more than 40% of the company’s business, up from 20% in early 2017.