Studio Dror

We Company Is the Newest Tech Entrant in the Urban Design Field

Tech companies, at least the good ones, realize that their long-term value is not tied to a patent portfolio or technological moat. Both of those wane over time. The best tech companies in the world understand that their competitive advantage is innovation. Being the best at making things better takes a lot of incredible people working together using result-oriented processes. It is expensive and elusive but once innovation becomes a core component of a company it can be incredibly lucrative since it can have lasting advantages. It is also incredibly scalable because it allows these companies to move into industries that have little or nothing to do with their original products and services.

One of the best examples of this is Google. They have business lines in everything from healthcare to fiberoptic broadband to smart homes to, of course, urban planning with their Sidewalk Labs unit.

Now it looks like WeWork’s parent company We Co seems to be pursuing the same focus on wide-ranging innovation. Besides workspace, they have taken on industries like education, food and beverage and fitness. Now they have their sights set on urban planning and have hired a well-known designer Dror Benshetrit and Di-Ann Eisnor, head of growth at Waze, to help them innovate how are cities are built. Benshetrit has already turned heads with some of his futuristic ideas on urban design like his concept of “geodesic dome with residential homes on their outside and communal and commercial spaces on the inside” built on man-made islands.

Innovating the urban landscape shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for The We Company. They have spent a lot to build and acquire technology to help them collect and analyze data about the way people utilize space. Plus, they already have one of the most renown and innovative living architects, Bjark Ingels as the chief architect. But wading into the public realm isn’t as easy as it might seem. Just ask Google. Their Sidewalk Labs is running into a lot of opposition in their Toronto project due to privacy issues that having a private company collect municipal data creates.

There is an ongoing argument over whether or not WeWork is considered a tech company. But while their business might more closely resemble a real estate operator than an app maker there is no doubt that they are one of the innovators when it comes to space. By fostering their innovative potential and branching out into other, often tangential products and services they might be able to create lasting value and the kind of advantages that every company would love to have.

Image credit: Studio Dror

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