Asia’s fast-growing flexible office sector has chalked up another merger, with Shanghai-based naked Hub acquiring local rival Raise Office, a co-working operator with four centres in the mainland financial hub.
Through the recently-announced deal, the set of Raise Office properties will be upgraded and rebranded as naked Hub locations, adding to the latter’s network of 14 centres in Greater China. Raise Office founder Frank Wang will join the naked management team as Head of Expansion, China, reporting to the company’s CEO Jon Seliger.
naked currently operates nine centres in Shanghai and three in Beijing, with four more venues under development in each city, and has two centres in Hong Kong. The two-year-old company backed by Hong Kong’s Gaw Capital has also announced plans to launch a pair of locations in London, starting with 123 Buckingham Palace Road — a Gaw-owned property currently occupied by Google — in the first quarter of next year.
naked Hub Notches 29% Growth Spurt
“With a common commitment to the co-working industry, we are very pleased to acquire Raise and welcome Frank to the naked leadership team,” Seliger commented in a statement. “With an open, green environment similar to naked Hub and cleverly-designed spaces, Raise represents the perfect addition to the naked Hub network, and will provide our members with even more exciting working options.”
Raise, which rolled out its first centre in July of last year, targets an international clientele with premises that feature private gyms, coffee bars and meditation spaces. The brand’s current network includes two locations in Huangpu district – in Ciros Plaza (388 Nanjing West Road) and Infinity Plaza (138 Huaihai Middle Road), near People’s Square – and another two centres farther from downtown – in Imago Plaza (99 Wuning Road, Putuo district) and City of Elite (1000 Jinhai Road, Pudong district).
The acquisition marks another milestone for naked, after the spinoff of Shanghai-based naked Resorts announced late last month it was moving into the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, hometown of e-commerce giant Alibaba. The company recently unveiled its second centre in Hong Kong, and also has plans to land at Guangdong Lu and Jiujiang Lu in Shanghai, as well as Dawang Lu in Beijing, in the first quarter of next year.
Old-Fashioned Space Race May Go High-Tech
naked’s takeover of a co-working rival echoes WeWork’s acquisition of Singapore-based Spacemob, which operates two locations in the city-state, this past August. The US giant absorbed the local startup as part of a regional growth drive that includes a $500 million investment in southeast Asia.
Beijing-based unicorn UrWork, which says it has a presence in 33 cities in China and overseas, announced a strategic merger with rival New Space earlier this year in a non-equity growth play.
While mergers may be a relatively quick and easy way to achieve scale, naked is also putting a high-tech spin on the race for co-working dominance, by offering software that it sees as a key step in transforming the workspace. The company introduced a mobile app earlier this year to link its Hubbers, as it likes to call its members, into a community, and has recently added the Connector feature, which allows members to find each other using various filters.
The startup is also enabling developers by rolling out building management software that allows landlords to track facility use by tenants and monetize facilities such as meeting rooms, with the aim of turning every building into a flexible, communal office hub. Three major property developers have already signed up for the service, the company said last month.