Bond Collective raises $50 million to expand co-working beyond New York

NEW YORK, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Bond Collective, which provides shared workspace for startups, said on Tuesday an investor pledged $50 million to help it expand beyond New York with plans to build 30 sites in three years and it announced the formation of a fund to buy property in trendy big city neighborhoods.

The push is a move to establish a name outside of New York City, where Bond operates six sites, said co-founder and Chief Executive Shlomo Silber.

An unnamed investor from a family with real estate holdings in Manhattan and Brooklyn has committed the cash to Bond and will spearhead a fund to invest in emerging neighborhoods such as Wynwood in Miami and East Nashville in that city, he said.

The announcement is the latest indication that demand for shared workspace is growing. Co-working rival WeWork gained the backing of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp with $4.4 billion in investment earlier this year.

“This is the future of work,” Silber said. “It makes so much sense.”

So far, Bond has leased the top floor of 20-story One Penn Center in Philadelphia’s Center City district, and aims to lease sites in Chicago, Washington and likely Austin, Texas, Silber told Reuters.

The firm also is looking at running boutique-like hotels and possibly a “co-living” space.

Plans to open 10 locations annually over the next three years and beta testing a co-living site, most likely in Miami, are in the works, he said.

“The question really is whether we’re going to go ahead and have a boutique hotel operator that we’re going to partner up with or a different co-living company and how exactly we’re going to do that. But it’s definitely in the cards,” he said.

The attraction of flexible workspace is that an office can be delivered immediately while building out a corporate office can take a year to do. This has led many co-working companies to see themselves as service providers in the hospitality industry.

“You have a plug-and-play environment with everything they need and they have no headaches,” Silber said. “We are just more and more into the hospitality angle of this business. Ultimately it’s a lifestyle brand and a service industry.”

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Lisa Shumaker