Not too long ago, the very concept of coworking required an explanation. In just five years, WeWork went from a fledgling coworking space in SoHo to a $10 billion company with locations around the world. With this backdrop, it's hard to remember that while WeWork was an early pioneer in the coworking space, they were by no means alone. Here are seven of New York City's coworking pioneers:
Hive at 55 was created by the Alliance for Downtown New York in late 2009. The space was located at 55 Broad Street in Lower Manhattan and had space for about 40 people. In 2011, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the space a, “modern, fully-outfitted office center for freelancers.” Today, like Bloomberg himself, Hive at 55 is just a memory, having been replaced by something slightly different. The Hive's website auto-redirects to the website of the Lower Manhattan HQ, a collaborative workspace that is run by the same people as the Hive.
Green Desk was started in 2008 in Brooklyn as an eco-friendly coworking space by Adam Newman and Miguel McKelvey. They sold the business in 2010 and started WeWork. GreenDesk is still around, and today claims to have around 4,000 members. They have locations in Dumbo, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, downtown Brooklyn, and Long Island City.
After selling GreenDesk, Newman and McKelvey started WeWork in 2010. To say that WeWork has grown quickly since its inception is an understatement. Today, the company is valued around $10 billion and operates 77 locations in 23 cities with more than 40,000 members — and they show no signs of slowing. Having largely conquered the coworking space, WeWork is quietly working on products that could change how people live. Their newest project, WeLive, currently has at least 45 tenants living in a location off of Wall Street.
General Assembly might be better known for their classes teaching various tech skills, but they were also an early addition to the city’s coworking scene. The company opened their 20,000 square foot campus near the Flatiron Building in early 2011, and filled their 100 seats almost immediately. Etsy founder Chris Maguire apparently worked there, and so did Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook. Today, General Assembly operates 15 campuses across four continents.
New Work City was one of the city’s first coworking spaces. Their first space opened up way back in 2008, around the same time Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey were starting GreenDesk. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign that pulled in about $18,000, the company opened up a swanky 4,700 square foot space off of Broadway in the Financial District in 2010. That space, sadly, shut down in June of 2015. New Work City operates today as a sort of resource for entrepreneurs.
Nutopia started operating in 1999, and eventually had locations in Tribeca, the Financial District and the Upper East Side. Ostensibly named after John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s micronation, the company had a good run until ceasing operations in mid-2009.
Paragraph has been operating as a coworking space for writers, journalists and academics since 2005. Their quiet and reflective space is on the third story of a walkup on 14th Street. The space is still open 24 hours a day with surprisingly affordable rates.