Like Airbnb and Uber, WeWork appeared at a crucial economic moment: After the GFC (or Great Recession). While the link to the “gig economy” may not be as obvious as in the case of many other players, it is there: WeWork hosted freelancers and laid-off workers in cheap space-on-demand offices. These were not the lavish, upscale offices that WeWork is known for now.
They entered long-term leases in the recession-struck commercial real estate space, renovated and divided up the spaces to rent it out to individuals and very small businesses. The customer segments have undergone quite a shift since.
WeWork mainly uses a form of subscription business model that they call Space-as-a-Service.
This is an MBA-level article for Startups & entrepreneurs on how to create a subscription business model.