WeWork Gets $4.4B SoftBank Investment

NEW YORK CITY—Coworking giant WeWork Cos. said Thursday it would receive a total of $4.4 billion from Japan-based SoftBank Group and SoftBank Vision Fund. Included in the total are investments in three newly established companies that will expand WeWork’s presence in Asia.

“Masayoshi Son is a visionary business leader and we are humbled by this strong endorsement of our mission and purpose,” says Adam Neumann, co-founder and CEO of WeWork, which occupies more than two million square feet of office space in its hometown of New York City alone. “This support from SoftBank and the Vision Fund will provide even more opportunities for creators as we set out to humanize the way people work and live.”

The agreement calls for SoftBank and its $93-billion Vision Fund to invest $3 billion in WeWork through a primary investment in new shares and a secondary purchase of existing shares. Additionally, SoftBank is investing a total of $1.4 billion into three newly created companies that are controlled and managed by local WeWork management teams across the Asia Pacific region.

Ronald D. Fisher, SoftBank Group Corp. director and vice chairman; and Mark Schwartz, SoftBank Group Corp. external director, will join WeWork’s board of directors.

The Wall Street Journal reported in July that WeWork’s latest round of fundraising gave it a valuation of $21 billion, putting it among the top five of privately held startups valued at $1 billion or more. “WeWork is leveraging the latest technologies and its own proprietary data systems to radically transform the way people work,” says Son, the Tokyo-based SoftBank’s chairman and CEO. He adds that Neumann’s “unique vision and talented team” have resulted in “a sharing platform that offers maximum flexibility and opportunity to creators of all types, from young entrepreneurs to large multinational companies. We are thrilled to support WeWork as they expand across markets and geographies and unleash a new wave of productivity around the world.”

Earlier this month, WeWork acquired Singapore-based Spacemob as part of the $500-million creation of a new entity that will expand WeWork’s presence in Southeast Asia and Korea. In July, WeWork partnered with SoftBank and Beijing-based private equity firm Hony Capital, on a $500-million investment to grow WeWork’s operations throughout China. Previously, WeWork and SoftBank had established a 50/50 joint venture known as WeWork Japan.

The $4.4-billion WeWork investment from SoftBank, which earlier this year agreed to acquire Fortress Investment Group, has been months in the making. The WSJ reported in January that SoftBank was contemplating an investment of at least $1 billion, pending the establishment of its fund.

“The emergence of the new breed of co-working facilities—which WeWork has helped pioneer—has left a profound impact on the market, and these users have represented perhaps the greatest source of growth in an otherwise slow-but steady-demand environment,” JLL research director Scott Homa told GlobeSt.com’s Erika Morphy in February. “Many users are drawn to the creative and collaborative nature of co-working locations, and WeWork has stood out as one of the most innovative in terms of its cool and edgy build-outs. This type of working environment fills a gap in the market.”

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