We Work shakes up commercial real estate

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With its free coffee, couches and glass partitions, shared workspace startup WeWork has shaken up both office culture and commercial real estate. Brushing aside questions about its business model, the New York outfit shows no signs of slowing down and is now preparing for its Wall Street debut to raise fresh capital. As recently as this month WeWork was seeking to tap credit markets for $4 billion to expand its footprint in the market for co-working, according to The Wall Street Journal. When the French startup CybelAngel wanted to open a New York office, WeWork was an obvious choice. With only basic furniture, their current space overlooks Manhattan’s tony 5th Avenue, with a corner office next to a small conference room. “It’s not cheaper” than a traditional office rental, said Jocelyne Attal, CybelAngel’s head of operations in New York. “But we don’t have to make a three-year commitment.” She added: “There’s security, a reception desk, the building codes are met, there’s housekeeping. We don’t have to take care of anything.” The free Monday breakfasts don’t hurt, either. When the company first appeared on the scene in 2010, the co-working concept was only starting to gain traction thanks to new technologies allowing professionals to work remotely. And the global financial crisis actually helped business, as it drove financial and creative professionals to launch their own startups. “WeWork was the first to really gravitate toward all the demand from first-time entrepreneurs and small business,” said Alex Cohen, vice president at the Compass real estate firm in New York.