It looks like we can add professional gaming to the sprawling list of industries that WeWork might be looking to get into. According to a report from Bloomberg's Gillian Tan and Marion Dakers, WeWork trademarked a brand called "Play By We," with a focus on professional gaming and gaming-related events.
The trademark was filed with the United Kingdom's Intellectual Property Office last week, according to Bloomberg, and WeWork has already assigned a few staff members for Play By We.
The coworking company also reportedly posted two job listings for Play By We: one for a content and experience manager, and another for a delivery project manager based in New York. The project manager would be responsible for managing architects, designers, and construction staff, while the experience manager would keep Play By We engaged with professional gamers, organizations, and other industry influencers.
Professional gaming, or esports, is a rapidly growing industry with a constant demand for the flexible event space and access to technology that WeWork could potentially provide — given its huge real-estate footprint and existing infrastructure for high-speed internet access. Video game companies and event organizers spend millions each year throwing high-profile tournaments, conferences and other private events for esports competitors and fans.
Hypothetically, Play By We could help mold WeWork's coworking properties into specialized video game event centers, for individual events or long-term use. A foray into video games doesn't come as too much of a shock from a company that launched WeGrow, an elementary school, and Rise By We, a spiritual wellness and fitness center — though it's been gradually unwinding some of those businesses.
To that point, the plans for Play By We were filed as WeWork looks to recover from its failed IPO attempt earlier this year.
WeWork began 2019 with a private valuation of $47 billion and its IPO was highly-anticipated. However, WeWork's August S-1 filing revealed that the company had seen mounting losses even as it grew its real-estate portfolio. When the company began its roadshow in September, it struggled to find willing investors.
Media coverage calling attention to the leadership-style of former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann and his wife and cofounder Rebekah Neumann also damaged the company's image, leading the company to shelve its IPO plans and ultimately push both Neumanns out of their leadership roles.
The failed IPO left the company short on cash, and it ultimately agreed to a $9.5 billion bailout from SoftBank, its largest single outside investor. SoftBank has appointed a new chairman to oversee WeWork's recovery, but the company is reportedly considering the layoff thousands of employees.
It's unclear if Play By We will become a reality as WeWork goes through this apparently painful period of internal restructuring, but it's another interesting new twist for a company that still has a lot to prove.