Verizon Gets Into The Co-Working Arena And Becomes A Landlord For Startups
Rather than selling its obsolete real estate, communications giant Verizon is joining the co-working movement.
Remember when computers used to take up entire rooms? Not personal computers but the kind of bulky mainframe megaliths which also needed huge buildings in which to store them along with the miles of copper cables and cooling equipment? Well, those days are gone as technology has shrunk hardware and cables into wafer thin circuit boards. What’s left is lots of vacant space. Rather than selling it off, The Washington Post reports that telecommunications giant Verizon, hip to the co-working boom, has decided to get involved, retooling much of their real estate (80 percent was rendered obsolete) to create “Alley, powered by Verizon”. The first site at 2055 L St. NW in Washington DC is set to open on June 29th.
Verizon is aware that by hitching their wagon to the co working movement not only does it provide them with additional income but the chance to rebrand and appeal the the millennials which tend to use them. However, Verizon also wants to differentiate themselves from standardized co-working offices such as WeWork by making “Alley” more curated and exclusive.
They have hired local artists to work on redesigning the spaces, which will also retain some of the old technology as showpieces to create a kind of hipster retro appeal. Alley, already a New York based co-working provider will be running Verizon’s operation and sharing revenue. The new company is vetting prospective clients to see if their business is a good fit, not unlike a job interview, with only about one in ten being accepted.
This careful curation is not without additional benefits for Verizon, allowing the communications giant the chance to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit circulating in their midst.
“To us, the real value is what we get by bringing entrepreneurs into the building and having them meet our folks,” said John Vasquez, senior V.P. of global real estate at Verizon. “We realize things will be created outside of Verizon and we want to be a part of that.”
And Verizon plans to go national and possibly international with the idea. An additional 150 company locations have been identified on the East Coast which could also be converted with proposals also requested by the company in Singapore.
The idea of a symbiotic working environment with all companies in the building having the potential to collaborate via a selective vetting process is nothing new. Upscale co-working places such as Neuehouse in New York also practice the same philosophy. Indeed, like Neuehouse, Alley’s business model to is encourage applications from a wide selection of creatives, not just those from the tech sector. There will be regular events to capitalize on so many entrepreneurial, people in one space. One of the first will be hosted by members of Verizon’s tech venture arm where attendees get to pitch ideas. A win win.