The Daily Dirt: A WeWork rival just laid off a bunch of people

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

TRD NEW YORK /
Jan.January 20, 2020 03:00 PM
Knotel CEO Amol Sarva (Credit: iStock)

Knotel CEO Amol Sarva (Credit: iStock)

A rapidly growing short-term office space provider just laid off a bunch of people. Sound familiar?

No, we’re not talking about WeWork. Rival Knotel let go as much as a third of its New York market focused staff, David Jeans reports. According to former employees, close to 20 people were fired this week from the company’s office at 22 West 38th Street. That office had 50 to 60 employees. Knotel acknowledged the layoffs but disputed the number of people let go.

“Knotel has grown from two employees in one city to 500-plus people in 17 cities over the past four years to become the leading global flexible workspace platform,” the company said in a statement. “Our business will continue to evolve and change to best meet the needs of our customers.”

The company wouldn’t specify how many people were fired.

The layoffs are not a good look for a company that announced a $1 billion valuation just six months ago. There have, however, been other headwinds: At the end of the last year, the Knotel reportedly had nearly 1 million square feet of vacant space in NYC. According to CNBC, the firm’s leasing activity dropped 80 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 67,000 square feet.

Knotel CEO Amol Sarva has also responded gleefully to the misfortunes of his biggest competitor, WeWork. When WeWork laid off more than 300 people at the beginning of 2019, he tweeted: “@WeWork layoffs. Sorry folks. We didn’t mean to. Meanwhile, @Knotel is hiring. Text me. +1-530-727-8277.” But Knotel has faced similar criticism as WeWork, namely that it’s grown too quickly and doesn’t have a clear financial plan.

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CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded on Friday was for a townhouse at 132 West 81st Street on the Upper West Side, at $8.3 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for development sites in Gravesend on Hunter Avenue, Bay 41st Street and Shore Parkway, at $57 million.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new project filing of the day was for a 92,837-square-foot residential building at 134-11 221st Street in Jamaica. Myron Berman filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 301 East 80th Street in Yorkville, at $10.5 million. Douglas Elliman’s Barbara Russo, Danielle Englebardt, Tal Alexander and Jared Schwadron have the listing.

A thing we’ve learned…

The etymology of Salt Bae’s “Nusr-Et” steakhouse suggests the name is a pun (maybe). Nusret means “divine assistance” and “et” is “meat” in Turkish, so: “divine meat assistance”? Thank you to Kevin Sun for breaking this down for us.

Elsewhere in New York

— Attention transit nerds: An art installation at the 5th Avenue/53rd Street subway station in Manhattan shows the evolution of subway graphic design, Gothamist reports. The 70-plus panel piece is a collaboration between the MTA and MoMA.

— Well, that’s awkward. It turns out two candidates competing for Rep. Yvette Clarke’s seat in New York’s 9th Congressional District have been working down the hall from each other. According to The City, Isiah James and Alex Hubbard have been working out of the same BKLYN Commons space.

— Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted to team up with Twitter parody account El Bloombito. The account’s response: No. Lo siento, no lo siento. Rachel Figueroa, the human behind the Twitter account, told Gothamist that she would be “low-key horrified” by a Bloomberg presidency.


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