Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Maybe this isn't a viable business model after all.

WeWork documents reveal it owes $18 billion in rent and is burning through cash as it seeks more funding.

I've been completely fascinated by these "incubators". They don't seem to be producing much. Yet I see one site in Fremont that is basically vacant and just storing cars in the parking lot. I've been meaning to go and check it out more closely. They seem to be a direct to customer used car company that I haven't heard of before and forget the name of. But every time I drive by there - there seems to be more and more cars. I just don't get it.

All I know if that if something happens to Softbank the Valley is going to be a little screwed. They own a little of everything around here.


  1. A while back I thought it'd be a good idea to have a membership in a "co-working" place with speedy Internet and other useful stuff, so I decided I'd go with one that has an international footprint with locations in London, Berlin, Miami, etc. ...

    I looked at their stuff online, figured I would like to have an on-site tour to see what I'd be buying, and decided to drop in to find any staff I could wrangle into giving me a tour.

    At 2 PM, I should have been able to get a tour pretty much anywhere, and I chose the biggest location I could find on that side of town.

    First impressions: security card readers on the outside? Was I in the right location?

    I didn't so much enter the building as much as I broke into it using social engineering. I just looked like the kind of person who could be there, so I was able to get someone to let me in.

    The building had three floors, and the company's presence was supposed to be on the third floor, so again I social engineered my way past several card readers to where the company's location was supposed to be.

    That's when I found that they had no on-site staff to help with anything.

    All of the "co-workers" were there pretty much on their own.

    Yes, I was in the right spot, someone told me, but that company didn't keep any on-site staff to help with anything. If you called a certain number or created a trouble ticket, some people would show up to refill things and to fix things, but that's all the interaction that would ever happen.

    That seemed super creepy, like working in a secure compartmented information facility of the government where nobody will talk about which agency really runs the place, or in fact what anyone's doing, or maybe even anyone's name.

    What I was looking at paying for this "service" was at least seven grand a year for myself and one other person who would be traveling with me, and for that I couldn't even drop in and get a tour at one of their sites from someone who actually worked for the business?

    I don't understand how they stay in business either, but my guess is that they cater to companies who want to stick their "remote" workers somewhere off-site so they don't have to have their own HR people managing space for them.

    There's one of these close to where I live right now, although I'm moving in a few months. It's a single floor office next to a bank, and it doesn't appear to be all that busy.

    Now I solve the core problem a different way: if I need to off-load a few terabytes of backup data, I save it on some NAS disks in VeraCrypt format and then ship a mirror of the NAS to Amazon who will transfer the data to one of their cloud instances for a fee. I then transfer that data out of there into an EU cloud server where it'll stay for cheaper until I can transfer it out again.

    I gave up on "co-working" arrangements entirely after that, and now I look for local options so I can off-load backups without pissing off the hotel managers where I'm staying. As long as I don't have to transfer backups, I can do what I'm doing pretty much anywhere, even with crappy rate-throttled 128kbps Internet on a Mi-Fi device.

    Like you, I don't understand these hipster enclave "incubators" that appear to bleed through cash, and I don't understand the "co-working" thing anymore except as some weird legacy cultural thing where people think they need an office with all of the office-like environmental factors.

    I went to the article, and image 2 of 29 says everything to me. That doesn't look like working, that looks like "conspicuously working" while not working.

    I have better office furniture in my office and I'm semi-retired.

  2. That seems to be the biggest complaint. Which might explain why not too much is being produced. They bill these things as having a rich resource stream but it sounds like a of people feel left in the desert. They make it sound like a "mentoring" space, but I guess I don't get that impression. I've been in a few of them for talks, but it's hard to figure out the culture while I'm there.