Over 100 Hoyas and members of the Georgetown University Real Estate Alliance met February 2nd at the Cornell Club for an evening of discussion with Artie Minson (B ’92), President & Chief Operating Office of WeWork, the revolutionary co-working space provider. Professor Matthew Cypher, Director of the Steers Center for Global Real Estate and Atara Kaufman Professor of Real Estate, led the discussion.
Co-Chair of the Georgetown Real Estate Alliance Lawrence Palumbo (B ’00) opened the evening with thanks to the events’ sponsors—Bob Billingsley (C ’68) of Cushman & Wakefield, Mitch Rutter (P ’12, ’14, ‘20), Founder of Essex Capital, Steve Iorio (B ’98) of Alliance Bernstein, Michael Waters (B’84) of Wachtel Missry, and Marc Flamino (‘89) of RBC Capital Markets. He also reported on the growth of the Real Estate Alliance since its founding in 2015, and on its mission to help real estate students gain footing in the industry prior to graduation.
Minson joined WeWork in June 2015 from Time Warner Cable, where he served as Chief Financial Officer for the country’s second largest cable operator. Prior to Time Warner Cable, Minson served as AOL’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance and Administrative Officer.
As President and COO, Minson is responsible for scaling WeWork’s operations and expanding the company’s presence globally. Minson manages operations, community, services, sales, expansion, business development and administrative functions including finance, legal, information technology and human resources.
Minson shared elements of WeWork’s strategy and competitive advantages. The criteria for new locations are: high quality physical asset, plenty of light and air, and proximity to a subway and other modes of transportation. WeWork founders, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, began the company by leasing its first space in boutique buildings; today, WeWork is expanding in locations such as the venerable Colgate Building on Park Avenue and through joint ventures internationally.
As WeWork’s presence has grown, so has the contribution of tenant improvement allowances from landlords to build out WeWork’s unique interiors. At the same time, WeWork’s increased scale has enabled the company to reduce the cost of building out space. The combination of greater landlord contributions and greater pricing efficiency has allowed WeWork to profit on new build outs in just one year.
Minson also took the opportunity to clarify some misconceptions about the nature of WeWorks’ tenants, or “members” as WeWork calls them. Contrary to popular opinion, less than 20% of members are in the field of technology. Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and GE, are also members. When asked if WeWork is especially susceptible to recessions, Minson explained that in the last recession, WeWork actually gained new members, as many displaced employees chose to start new ventures rather than try to re-enter the job market at a difficult time.
When asked about WeWork’s plans to go public, Minson said that the company will explore that option at the right time. One of his most important roles is to position the company to be ready for an eventual public offering.
Professor Cypher ended the discussion portion of the evening by asking, “How did Georgetown and the school’s Jesuit values prepare you for your role at WeWork?” Minson answered by saying Georgetown’s credo of Men and Women for Others in many ways matches the mission of WeWork: to foster community spirit and build meaningful relationships.
The Georgetown Real Estate Alliance was formed in 2015 to promote the Steers Center for Global Real Estate, welcome students into the real estate community, and foster connections among Georgetown alumni and parents who are active in the real estate industry. For more information, please visit www.georgetownrealestatealliance.com.