- Shanghai-based naked Hub confirms its partnership with WeWork.
- Both brands cite “shared values” in their drive to create vibrant communities backed by design, technology and hospitality.
- Beijing-based Ucommune, a major competitor in China, says the move “will by no means cause a big shake-up for the domestic coworking market”
“Our rocketship has just docked with a bigger rocketship, and we look forward to moving faster together” – Dominic Penaloza, Chief Innovation Officer of naked Hub.
The Shanghai-based flexible workspace brand naked Hub, founded in 2015, has confirmed its partnership with WeWork following yesterday’s reports of a $400million acquisition by the New York workspace giant.
“Today we are extremely proud to announce that naked Hub is joining forces with WeWork … By working together, naked Hub and WeWork will be able to help many more innovators and companies across China and the region be more successful,” stated naked Hub.
Adam Neumann, co-founder and CEO of WeWork, commented that the two companies were drawn to each other because of their similar cultures.
“WeWork is not a co-working company,” he affirmed yesterday.
Indeed, naked Hub was born out of Grant Horsfield’s naked Group, which owns luxury resort brands in China, and it’s easy to see the potential serendipity between naked Group and WeWork. The latter’s mission is to “Create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living”, and WeWork is evidently pushing further into the lifestyle culture via multiple avenues: its co-living arm WeLive, its ‘Rise By We’ gym, its investment in Flatiron School, its music festival-style Summer Camp and even the somewhat mysterious purchase of Wavegarden – a business that makes wave pools.
Horsfield, founder and chairman of naked Group, said: “China-born naked Hub and WeWork may come from vastly different backgrounds but there is more that binds us than separates us. The values we share towards creating a vibrant community for our members by using design, technology and hospitality are core to how both companies are successful.”
Neumann added: “In naked Hub, we have found an equal who shares our thinking about the importance of space, community, design, culture, and technology. Together, I believe we will have a profound impact in helping businesses across China grow, scale, and succeed.”
Whether WeWork only has eyes for naked Hub, or whether Horsfield’s luxury resort brands will feature in the picture, remains to be seen. For now, WeWork is bent on expanding its workspace footprint across China.
WeWork currently has more than 200 physical locations across 64 cities and 20 countries, serving over 200,000 members. naked Hub adds 24 workspaces and 10,000 members, with a further 26 workspaces planned in the near future.
What could possibly upset the New York giant’s apple cart?
The answer is Beijing-based Ucommune, formerly known as UrWork, which is itself expanding rapidly across China and other global cities.
“I think it’s reasonable that companies sharing similar cultural genes and development strategy merge together for further growth,” said Dr. Mao Daqing, who founded Ucommune in 2015.
“This will by no means cause a big shake-up for the domestic coworking market. Ucommune will remain committed to our globalisation strategy and we foresee major moves on the M&A front from our side in the near future.”
In 2018 alone, Ucommune completed the merger and acquisitions of three workspace brands – New Space, Woo Space and Wedo – and also entered into a partnership with China’s leading property developer Vanke.
In total, Ucommune now controls 160 workspace locations in 35 cities, servicing over 100,000 members and 6000 + corporate members. Its current valuation is $1.7 billion.
Regardless, with added fuel from naked Hub, WeWork won’t make it easy.
Jonathan Seliger, CEO of naked Hub, made their intentions clear: “This partnership will enable the teams to move faster and to go bigger in our mission to create the most innovative and relevant co-working operation in Asia, and now the world.”