(Bloomberg)—WeWork Cos. wants to be more than an office landlord. The co-working giant’s latest venture will give online-degree seekers a desk at WeWork locations.
The New York company told Bloomberg it’s teaming up with online education provider 2U Inc., which develops graduate courses for schools, including New York University, University of California, Berkeley, and Yale University. Students enrolled in digital courses offered by 2U will be able to study from WeWork offices, where they can join in-person study groups and rent conference rooms to work together with classmates. Students will have access to any of WeWork’s 207 locations, known for their hip decor, free Wi-Fi and on-tap kombucha.
Education has been a recent focus of WeWork and its founding couple, Adam and Rebekah Neumann. Last year, WeWork began testing a private elementary school in one of its New York locations and acquired Flatiron School, a coding academy.
2U agreed to pay $15 million to incorporate Flatiron School software into its online degree programs, said Gwendolyn Rocco, a spokeswoman for WeWork. 2U also committed to give $5 million in scholarships to WeWork members. Next year, the two companies plan to build a learning center, where 2U faculty can host master classes, lecture series and events in a WeWork-designed space.
2U’s shares rose 3.3 percent to $74.8 in premarket trading Monday in New York.
WeWork is eager to expand beyond month-to-month desk rentals. In addition to schools, the company is adding apartments, event spaces and wellness centers to its office buildings. WeWork, which is backed by more than $5 billion in funding, has been acquiring businesses and partners to bring other activities to locations around the world. Last year, WeWork said it had purchased Meetup, a social network for events.
By providing 2U students with space for their schoolwork and study groups, WeWork aims to attract new customers who may prefer the hip environment of a co-working space to a library. Another perk that might catch students’ attention: Most WeWork locations offer craft beer on tap.
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