WeWork, a real estate startup, is readying for a new startup incubator called Area 51 Paradise Ranch. This initiative is intended to be a launching pad for startups. They will begin with a beta program in New York City in the company’s Hudson Street office space.
The application page of Area 51 describes the project as “a collective of exceptional founders working to change humanity in innovative and disruptive ways.” The online application form asks questions like, “What is your start-up’s name?” and “At which stage of funding is [your start-up]?”
Area 51 can be looked at as an initiative of WeWork’s desire to build a community. Through their “co-living” spaces such as ‘WeLive’ or sophisticated summer camp festivals in upstate New York, the company has tried to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Area 51 does not offer investment or take equity for participating. Neither does the company offer a free workspace for the duration of the project. Instead, the company will be charging the startups a typical WeWork desk fee which starts at $350.
WeWork’s valuation has substantially increased in the last one year. The startup reached a $20 billion valuation in July, making it one of the most valuable startups in New York City. In the past few months, the company has purchased networking site Meetup.com for $200 million, a mobile communications app, a coding camp in New York City, and a posh new headquarters in downtown New York. Quite recently, the company led a $32 million investment in The Wing, a social club.
According to a pitchdeck, which features black and white photos of the Nevada desert, Area 51 is giving amenities such as a “curated community” of startups, a workspace that is designed by an algorithm which is meant to foster meaningful relationships, also a mentorship from unknown mentors, and an introduction to other WeWork members, events and funding opportunities from unnamed venture capital firms. These events include happy hours and “weekly standups.”
The pitchdeck describes the program as “a fluid yet systematic platform,” that is “effective so pioneers, inventors, leaders and members can be vision-oriented and results-driven.” With typical WeWork messaging, it promises “LIBERTY + DISCIPLINE,” and declares that “POTENT COMMUNITY = PROFOUND SUCCESS” — potential new slogans for the ambitious company’s walls.