Exclusive: GV buys out WeWork’s stake in The Wing
Among the many, many questions raised by WeWork’s 2019 flameout: What would happen to the co-working giant’s investment in women’s workspace startup The Wing?
The Wing answered that query on Wednesday, revealing that GV (formerly Google Ventures) has bought out the majority of WeWork’s stake. The company also announced that writer/actor Mindy Kaling has joined its stable of celebrity backers.
“We are so thrilled to bring on visionary new investors like Google Ventures who will help us continue to scale new heights,” The Wing co-founder and CEO Audrey Gelman said in a statement.
WeWork led a $32 million funding round for The Wing in 2017 and returned as an investor in a 2018 funding round, ultimately acquiring a 21% stake in the company, according to The Wing. GV has bought out most of that stake, with the remainder going to existing investors Sequoia Capital and NEA. Late last year, WeWork began to divest from non-core businesses, including community-building app Meetup and cleaning service Managed by Q, after concerns arose about the health of the co-working startup amid its thwarted initial public offering.
GV general partner Jessica Verrilli will join The Wing’s board of directors, replacing WeWork chief legal officer Jennifer Berrent. Berrent was named in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against WeWork that was filed in October of last year. WeWork has repeatedly denied the allegations. When the suit was first reported, The Wing’s co-founders said they found the charges “appalling.” Bloomberg reported that Berrent hadn’t attended a board meeting for The Wing in more than a year.
“[Gelman and co-founder Lauren Kassan] have built a category-defining company with phenomenal product-market fit,” Verrilli, former VP of corporate development and strategy at Twitter and co-founder of the women’s investing collective #Angels, said in a statement. “The founders have an impressive vision for scaling the physical clubs and digital network in the years to come and we are honored to be their partner on the journey ahead.”
Verilli joins a board that includes Sequoia Capital partner Jess Lee, NEA general partner Tony Florence, and Wieden+Kennedy president Colleen DeCourcy.
The Wing also announced the investment from Kaling, who joins a slew of other celebrity stakeholders, including Kerry Washington, Serena Williams, and U.S. Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe.
The Wing now operates 11 locations of its women’s co-working space in the U.S. and U.K. and expects to open nine more by the end of the year.
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