WeWork to have 3 new locations in Singapore by December despite reported layoffs, IPO flop

WEWORK on Thursday said it would have three new locations in Singapore by the year's end, even as the office rental startup is dealing with fiascos including a shelved listing of its parent company, and impending layoffs reportedly in the thousands, that could take place as soon as this month.  

Its new space at 9 Battery Road in Singapore's central business district (CBD) has been officially launched, with two other locations at 83 Clemenceau Road and 30 Prinsep Street to be opened later in December. Including the three additions, WeWork will have a total of 12 locations in Singapore. It opened its first space at WeWork Beach Centre in December 2017.

"With Singapore as a key hub in South-east Asia that has gained optimal performance, the addition of these three new locations in core CBD and beyond adds to its portfolio of vibrant, strategically-located collaborative spaces in Singapore that offer businesses an integrated environment which blends community, design, culture and technology," the company said.

WeWork 9 Battery Road, which occupies the MYP Centre building, offers members views of Marina Bay through a rooftop terrace, and is the first location in Singapore to feature a "mini-golf playzone", the company added. Members there include Armstrong Asset Management, a private equity investor focused on South-east Asia's renewable energy assets; and EventBank, a cloud-based event and membership management software company. 

Andrew Affleck, managing partner at Armstrong Asset Management, said: "As we are looking for a space that enables us to adapt and scale based on our growth, we were attracted to WeWork that provides us with a platform that enables our team to be agile. Within a month of our move-in, we have since seen an uptick in employee satisfaction and productivity."

On Sept 30, WeWork's parent The We Company filed to withdraw what would have been one of the largest initial public offerings (IPOs) of the year, following weeks of backlash over its lofty valuation and shaky governance.

WeWork plunged into crisis after investors failed to buy into its US$47 billion valuation, and the company dramatically ousted its founder and chief executive, Adam Neumann. Mr Neumann was axed after The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed that he had taken US$700 million out of the company before the IPO, and investors questioned a dual-class share sale that would have given him and his associates total control of the SoftBank-backed startup even after the IPO.

Last year, The We Company reported a loss of US$1.6 billion on sales of US$1.8 billion. And with its current rate of cash burn - at about US$700 million a quarter - the group could run out of money some time after the first quarter of 2020, according to Chris Lane, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein & Co, the WSJ said.

WeWork's new co-chiefs are now reportedly planning thousands of job cuts and other cost-saving measures, including the sale of a US$60 million corporate jet bought last year, in a bid to stem massive losses. Some 2,000 employees could lose their jobs, which would be about 16 per cent of WeWork’s 12,500 employees as at June, media reports noted last week, though deliberations are ongoing and the number could change. 

Contacted by BT on Thursday, WeWork declined to comment on whether their staff in Singapore would be affected by the layoffs.