China’s URWork has joined forces with an American flexible office provider to open its first US location in downtown Manhattan, as the battle for co-working domination intensifies. The $1.3 billion Beijing startup that aims to be China’s answer to WeWork has partnered with New York-based Serendipity Labs to set up a 34,000 square foot centre, it was reported this week.
Scheduled to open in October, the new space is located at 28 Liberty St, a landmark skyscraper in Manhattan’s financial district owned by Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun. The news follows the soft opening of the two-year-old URWork’s first overseas location in Singapore last month, as the mainland unicorn backed by mainland VC heavyweights Sequoia Capital China and Zhen Fund builds up a global presence.
US and Chinese Co-Working Startups Partner for Fast Growth
URWork, which says it currently has more than 78 co-working centres in China and Singapore, is aiming for a network of 100,000 seats across 150 locations in 35 cities worldwide over the next three years. In an exclusive interview two weeks ago, URWork founder Mao Daqing confirmed to Mingtiandi that his startup would soon land in New York, with plans for a second US location in Los Angeles in the fourth quarter.
The partnership with Serendipity Labs will give customers of both companies access to their combined network of international locations, via a joint booking system. To cater to Chinese firms or multinationals with ties to the country, the New York location will also have a number of Mandarin-speaking staff on hand, Mao told The Wall Street Journal.
Serendipity, which specializes in premium workspaces with corporate users forming half its client base, has six locations and plans to open 10 more during this year. The agreement with URWork is in keeping with the startup’s taste for joint ventures and franchise deals to enable to fast growth.
Fosun’s real estate arm bought the building housing URWork’s new space, then called One Chase Manhattan Plaza, in October 2013 for $725 million. Fosun then extensively renovated the 60-storey, 2.2 million square foot skyscraper and rebranded it as 28 Liberty as it stepped up marketing efforts to lease out the grade A office space.