Heavily funded startup WeWork is launching a joint venture (JV) with telecom giant SoftBank that will open WeWork’s shared working spaces to the Japanese market.
The new JV, which will be known as “WeWork Japan,” will be 50 percent-owned by each company and will enable the New York-based tech firm to gain a solid foothold in a potentially sizeable and lucrative market.
Founded in 2010, WeWork offers shared working spaces in dozens of locations across the U.S. and globally, including in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The company already has hubs in China, India, and South Korea, and with the backing of SoftBank — one of the world’s largest public companies — it will now set out to conquer Japan.
“At WeWork, we want to create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living,” explained WeWork cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann, in a press release. “When I met Masa (Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank) and understood his vision for a technology-enabled future, a vision I share, I knew that together we would be able to make a big impact, grow our community and change how and where people work. Both WeWork and SoftBank have established reputations for connecting people and creating partnerships to facilitate innovation and inspire new ideas.”
The tie-up should perhaps come as little surprise, though. WeWork has raised north of $4 billion since its inception, with around $1 billion of that coming this year alone — and SoftBank represents roughly one-third of that investment.
WeWork may not garner the same kinds of headlines as other well-financed startups, such as Uber, but with a reported $20 billion valuation, it is now among the top five most valuable startups in the world. And with SoftBank’s backing, it’s laying the foundations to infiltrate another major business economy. The first Japanese location will open in Tokyo in early 2018, and Chris Hill, who joined WeWork early on as chief operating officer (COO), will serve as CEO of WeWork Japan.