The Real Deal New York

WATCH: Knotel’s Amol Sarva on the future of office space and his rivalry with WeWork

By Ben Heitmann | March 01, 2018 01:30PM

Amol Sarva’s Knotel had an eventful year.

In February 2017, the flexible office space provider announced a $25 million Series A fundraising round. Since then, the company has been opening new locations at a rapid clip, expanding to more than 700,000 square feet in New York and San Francisco.

Earlier on Thursday, the company announced that Starbucks is taking a full floor at its latest location at 72 Madison Avenue.

Sarva, who holds a philosophy PhD from Stanford and previously co-founded Virgin Mobile USA, sat down with The Real Deal to talk about his career and his vision for Knotel and the future of the office market. He also discussed his public spat with WeWork last year.

He claimed the coworking giant offered his customers one or two years free rent if they switched. “They had a product that was on 100 percent discount offered to our companies,” he said. According to him, only one four-person team actually switched.

Sarva has accused WeWork employees of corporate espionage. In return, Sarva trolled WeWork by parking a school bus with the inscription “graduate from co-working” outside the company’s headquarters.

The move was a message “to the bros hanging out doing keg stands at WeWork. At some point, their company will be real and they may want to move on up to the right situation,” Sarva said.

While WeWork is busy expanding into new business lines like apartments, retail and education, Sarva plans to stick with office space.

“I know how important it is to figure out the model that works and then just make it vast,” he said. Office space, he added, “is just like a limitless-potential market.”

To watch Sarva talk about the future of office space and how Knotel’s business model differs from WeWork, watch the video above.

Video produced by Jhila Farzaneh. Interview conducted by Konrad Putzier