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WeWork, shared office network founded in New York, has plans for two Boston locations

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 12, 2013 08:00 AM

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Entrepreneurs and free agents will soon have one more option when they're hunting for a place to hang their hats: WeWork, which describes itself as "a physical social network," is coming to Boston. Though the New York company wouldn't confirm it, several local realtors say WeWork is making a big bet here, leasing two large, multi-floor spaces. One is at 51 Melcher Street in Fort Point Channel — a building that will also be home to Life Is Good's headquarters — and the other is at 745 Atlantic Avenue, near South Station. The spaces should be open by late 2013 or early 2014, sources tell me.

WeWork, which opened its first office in New York in 2010, already has multiple locations in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. In addition to renting desks and offices by the month and offering conference rooms that can be reserved for meetings, WeWork also hooks tenants up with discounted rates on healthcare plans, credit card processing, and Zipcar memberships. Pricing for a dedicated desk at one of WeWork's San Francisco facilities, for example, is $400 per month. (Though WeWork hasn't announced pricing in Boston, that's a bit cheaper than the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square. CIC charges $635/month for a dedicated desk, according to managing director Geoff Mamlet, but he says that is an "all-inclusive price" that includes features that WeWork charges extra for, like tech support and phone service.) WeWork also organizes educational seminars and social events at each location. According to WeWork's website, "every WeWork location is staffed with Community Managers who work directly with members to understand their business needs, struggles and growth plans — and connect them to other members who can help."

In January 2012, WeWork raised $6.8 million in funding.

Mark Kasdorf, who runs the Intrepid Labs co-working space in East Cambridge, tells me that it is "packed to the gills," and so clearly there's unmet demand for flexible office space where lots of entrepreneurs and consultants can work alongside each other. John Harthorne, founder of the entrepreneurship competition MassChallenge, says that "we're all better off if WeWork winds up creating stronger ties between New York and Boston. The two cities have really complementary assets."

At realty firm T3 Advisors, CEO Roy Hirshland notes, "This co-working space sector has really expanded. I do think it signifies some fundamental shifts in the way at least part of the workforce will work in the future." WeWork's Boston space will total about 70,000 square feet; it'll be quite interesting to see how quickly it can fill that...

WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann didn't respond to my requests for an interview last week.

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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