Co-working unicorn WeWork is building up a team to bring its shared office platform into Singapore, with mainland competitors URWork and naked Hub also targetting the southeast Asian financial centre.
WeWork is preparing to enter the Singapore co-working space according to industry analysts who spoke with Mingtiandi, and the company is currently recruiting a management team for its southeast Asian operation, as evidenced from job listings on its corporate website.
The WeWork news comes as Sequoia Capital-backed URWork prepares to open its first Singapore centre in July, with Shanghai-based naked Hub also said to be targetting southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
WeWork Team Will Search for Southeast Asia Locations
WeWork is currently recruiting for five distinct roles for the southeast Asia market, including a senior director of real estate for the region, according to the company’s website. The senior director’s responsibilities will include “site selections/sourcing, financial evaluations, lease negotiations and closing, managing developer/landlord relationships, and all tasks relating to acquisition of new locations,” according to the job listing.
The company is also looking for a director of real estate, a director of real estate transactions and a real estate analyst for its southeast Asia operations. Beyond the team expected to identify locations and negotiate leases, WeWork is already hiring at least one Singapore-based community manager who will be responsible for operating co-working centres in the city.
The US company’s plans to enter the Singapore market were confirmed by industry players who spoke with Mingtiandi on condition of anonymity, adding that the island city was the only Southeast Asian nation of interest to WeWork at this time.
“We’re always looking for new communities and new opportunities but have nothing to announce at this time,” said a WeWork spokesperson in an email. The spokesperson pointed out that WeWork has already rolled out locations in Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul and will soon open additional centres in the two Chinese cities.
The $17 billion startup, which officially opened its third Shanghai centre last week, has announced plans to add to its 140 office locations in 44 cities worldwide with Asia one of its primary areas of focus. WeWork launched its first Asian location in Shanghai’s downtown Jing An district last July, and has since opened centres in Hong Kong while building up a regional team.
WeWork, founded in 2010, raised $430 million from Beijing-based Legend Holdings and its private equity arm, Hony Capital, last March and received $260 million from Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels in October, investments that will help fund the company’s Asia expansion.
Mainland Co-Workers Also Gearing Up for SG
As WeWork shops for locations for new centres in Singapore, it’s likely to visiting the same buildings as mainland competitor URWork.
The Beijing-based shared office provider is expected to open a centre at Singapore’s JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, a facility for startups and incubators, in July, according to the website Tech in Asia. URWork is partnering with Collective Campus, an Australian startup accelerator, to set up the 640 square metre (6,889 square foot) centre, establishing the Chinese brand’s first international presence.
URWork, which announced a strategic merger with mainland rival New Space earlier this month, has big ambitions in Asia and beyond. Following the merger, the combined company will have an estimated market value of RMB 9 billion ($1.31 billion) and a total of nearly 100 co-working centres across China. The company aims to expand to 150 centres in 35 cities worldwide within the next three years, including presences in New York and London.
Shanghai-based naked Hub, which last year raised $33 million in funding from investors including Hong Kong’s Gaw Capital, has also announced plans to open centres in Singapore.
Domestic Players to Have International Competitors
The shared office market in Singapore is currently dominated by domestic brands such as Justco, which is soon to open its largest co-working centre in the city’s central business district.
However, Singapore’s shared office situation could soon be shaken up according to Jonathan Wright, Asia lead for the newly created Flexible Workspace Services business line at international property consultancy Colliers international. The market will “inevitably change in the next 12 to 24 months with many operators looking at this market due to maturity of the market from a landlord and corporate occupier perspective and the government investment in making Singapore a great place for start-ups,” Wright told Mingtiandi.
“You’ve got corporate occupiers who tend to be a bit more mature in their real estate strategies than many other places in Asia,” Wright explained, adding that the presence of multinational corporates in the city, many of which have started deploying staff in flexible office locations, will also drive take-up in the co-working sector.