American co-working behemoth WeWork, the world’s eighth biggest unicorn valued at US$17 billion, today strode into India’s Silicon Valley. Its first Indian location on Residency Road in the heart of Bangalore is called WeWork Galaxy because it took over and redesigned a movie theater called Galaxy, which was once a favorite haunt of Bangaloreans – before the advent of multiplexes and video streaming.
Two other co-working spaces are planned in Bangalore’s tech hubs of Koramangala and Whitefield, as well as expansion to Mumbai and Delhi, according to a statement from WeWork. The Bangalore launch comes on the same day as the opening of a center in Sao Paolo, the first WeWork space in Brazil.
“For WeWork, 2017 is a year of great expansion in the Asia-Pacific region … and we are looking forward to seeing what innovative new ideas will come from these communities,” says WeWork Asia-Pacific managing director Ole Ruch. WeWork currently has co-working spaces in 191 locations, covering 49 cities.
The WeWork India website lists US$309 as the monthly rent for a private office and US$255 for a dedicated desk. This would price it higher than co-working spaces like BHive, which recently opened a new center close by on Residency Road, and the more lifestyle-oriented VR Bengaluru in a Whitefield mall. But for many in the entrepreneurial community, it may seem like value-for-money, given the networking opportunities in an upmarket co-working space.
India’s tech hubs are seeing a boom in co-working spaces. Apart from BHive and VR Bengaluru, Y Combinator-backed Innov8, Awfis, 91Springboard, MyHQ, and Coworkin are among the better-known ones. Awfis recently raised US$20 million in a series A round from Sequoia India – the biggest funding round for any Indian co-working space #startup.
The Indian ecosystem has seen US$5.2 billion of investment in startups in the first half of this year, and is on track for a record funding year. This makes the entry of WeWork well-timed – after months of announcing its arrival on massive hoardings across Bangalore.