Co-working pioneer WeWork has secured a massive US$4.4 billion injection of capital from Japanese conglomerate Softbank.
The Japanese telecom giant will buy $3 billion worth of new and existing WeWork shares as part of its new $100 billion investment portfolio. The seven-year-old office rental company is now valued by investors at around US$21 billion. Of the Softbank investment, $1.4 billion will be directed to fuel the company’s expansion in Asia.
The funds come from Softbank itself and its giant $US93 billion tech-focused Vision Fund. The Wall Street Journal describes WeWork now as the fourth-most valuable start-up in the US behind ride-hailing company Uber Technologies, home-rental site Airbnb and rocket-maker Space Exploration Technologies.
WeWork's LaFayette space in Paris.
“We are thrilled to support WeWork as they expand across markets and geographies and unleash a new wave of productivity around the world,” SoftBank chairman and chief executive Masayoshi Son said.
Softbank also will receive two seats at WeWork’s board table.
Since launching in Australia late in 2016, WeWork has accumulated more than 26,000 square meters of space in Sydney and Melbourne.
Earlier this year WeWork announced its intention to occupy Melbourne’s historic 401 Collins Street building by the end of 2017 and take up about 6,000 square meters of space.
WeWork has grown from operating in a single small building in Manhattan to now more than 160 locations in 16 countries, with nearly $US1 billion in annualised revenue and more than 125,000 desks.