Coworking giant WeWork blurred the boundaries between work and life last year with WeLive, its furnished “co-living” rental apartments. Now the company, said to be worth over $20 billion, is blurring the boundaries between work and school with a flurry of education investments and initiatives.
WeWork announced its latest foray into learning, a strategic partnership with 2U, a company that develops and operates online graduate programs for universities including Berkeley, Georgetown, and Yale, on Monday. As part of the deal, students enrolled in 2U programs will have access to common spaces and meeting rooms in all 285 WeWork office locations. 2U, in turn, will provide WeWork members with $5 million in scholarships. “We are all students for life,” WeWork cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann said in announcing the news.
In addition, 2U will open a learning center adjoining a WeWork location—most likely in London, 2U CEO Chip Paucek tells Fast Company, where the coworking company operates 32 offices. Dedicated to the future of learning and work, the center will showcase 2U instructors and serve as one possible home for the in-person immersion experiences that accompany many of 2U’s online degrees. (2U’s UNC MBA, for example, brings teams of students together in cities around the world for a series of group projects.) 2U will also be able to market its degree programs and shorter certificate courses to WeWork members.
WeWork has placed greater emphasis on education over the past six months. In October, it acquired Flatiron School, a New York-based bootcamp operator known for its selective admission criteria. Then, in November, WeWork founding partner Rebekah Neumann announced the launch of WeGrow, a micro-school serving elementary students. Also in November, the company shelled out $200 million to buy Meetup, a startup known for its educational networking events.
“WeWork provides community, and with that the tools necessary for entrepreneurs and businesses to grow. Of course education is going to be a part of that,” says Flatiron School cofounder and CEO Adam Enbar, who has stayed on post-acquisition.
“What this signals is a future where people are going to be working and learning in the same space, because learning is going to have be integrated into your career,” he adds. “You can’t separate life on campus and life at work.”
Not to mention life at play. WeWork also happens to hold a large stake in wave-pool maker Wavegarden, based in northern Spain. Would 2U students gain access to co-surfing wave pools, as well as WeWork offices?
That’s not part of the deal, Paucek says. “I have no knowledge of the wave pool, just to be clear.”