(Bloomberg)—The “UrWork” brand is no more. WeWork Cos.’s Chinese rival is re-naming its shared-office service “ucommune,” a re-tool that may help it side-step potential legal hassles as it pursues a global expansion.
URwork (Beijing) Venture Investment Co. retains its formal name but decided to drop the moniker from all of its hundred-plus locations after WeWork called off a trademark battle against its competitor. The Chinese startup’s now in the process of building product lines around the new brand, it said in a statement without giving specifics. UrWork’s said previously it’s exploring other services that startups need, from marketing and public relations to legal and fund-raising assistance.
UrWork, which says it’s valued at more than $1 billion, is preparing a major incursion against WeWork, the U.S. leader in shared offices that’ve gained popularity as bootstrapped startups sought to lower costs and collaborate with peers. While UrWork’s expansions have been largely confined to its home market, the startup’s begun setting up in cities from London to Los Angeles and now operates almost 120 locations in 35 cities around the world.
“We don’t want to just provide office space, we want to give customers more possibilities,” UrWork said. “Connecting to the world from a desk, building from a massive membership network -- that’s what we mean by ‘commune’.”
WeWork sued its shared-workspace rival this year for allegedly mimicking its name and brand, launching legal action in London and New York before the pair agreed to a settlement without disclosing terms. That resolution allowed both companies to move ahead with their business plans, they said at the time.
UrWork’s international foray now pits it squarely against WeWork, valued at $20 billion in its latest funding round and backed by the likes of SoftBank Group Corp. The U.S. startup is now preparing to expand its Asian footprint, including in China and Japan. UrWork’s own backers include Sequoia Capital China, Sinovation Ventures and Tianhong Asset Management Co., a fund backed by financial services giant Ant Financial.
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