They're hard to miss: WeWork signs on buildings, especially in lower Manhattan. Fans gush about the company.
"It's the future," said Waddie Grant, a WeWork Member and a HR professional. "I mean, where we are going as far as employment and as far as workforce is an agile environment."
WeWork transforms buildings into trendy shared office spaces, renting them out, often to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and startups for as little as $300 a month, about the cost of a fancy gym.
"We have been a WeWork company since the very beginning," said Hayley Berlent, the CEO of the Additive Agency. Berlent founded the Additive Agency five years ago to create brands and messaging for nonprofits.
"It's allowed us to grow very organically. We started last WeWork in Park South. We grew bigger, we went to WeWork in Chelsea. We grew bigger, we went to WeWork in Irving Place. And now we settled very comfortably at the community here in DUMBO," Berlent said.
WeWork began with one work space in SoHo nine years ago, with a mission different than that of a typical temporary office rental company.
"Presumably, they put people in the office and they never talk to them until they wanted to move out. We're at the coffee station with them every day," Dave McLaughlin, WeWork's tristate general manager.
McLaughlin says it's about hospitality, feedback, and supporting members. With 73 locations in New York City and 425 worldwide, the company is now the largest commercial landlord in the city and among the biggest in the world, valued at $47 billion.
One of WeWorks New York members is the startup Stojo, which creates collapsible cups.
"I just wanted to get into the WeWork network," Jurrien Swarts said. "I felt like there was a lot of energy there, around startups and culture, and they just had better quality coffee, frankly."
There is free coffee, tea, and beer. But, also guidance for members and by members.
Still, despite WeWork's large footprint, it's a renter as well.
"Our typical business model is we sign a 15-year lease and then we invest in the building and then we make it available to companies of all different sizes, all different industries," McLaughlin said.
WeWork does own one building in the city with quite a bit of history — it just purchased the iconic Lord and Taylor flagship on Fifth Avenue for $850 million. It plans to move its headquarters there, preserving three floors for retail but using much of the rest of the building for — what else — shared office space.