WeWork battling another data leak

Unverified report claims company’s membership churn spiked

From left: Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann
From left: Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann

A week after WeWork saw internal financial estimates splashed all over the internet, the company is battling another data leak.

Thinknum, a web data company, says it analyzed public data in WeWork’s online member network and created a database of all its registered members. It claims WeWork’s membership churn rate has increased dramatically over the past couple of months, from 1.2 percent to more than 6 percent.

WeWork [TRData] disputes the numbers, and today sent a cease-and-desist letter to Thinknum, itself a WeWork member, claiming it violated its membership agreement by “scraping” the membership network and collecting information on members. “This company scraped incomplete data from our member network, which violated the rules of our community,” a WeWork spokesperson told The Real Deal.  “The data they published and their associated conclusions are factually inaccurate and do not reflect our thriving business.”

The Real Deal wasn’t  immediately able to verify the data. However, some WeWork members appear twice in the database. Justin Zhen, founder of Thinknum, told TRD the company didn’t control for potential duplicates, but argued that such cases are too rare to impact the findings. Still, duplicates could skew churn rates.

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Thinknum’s database, reviewed by TRD, lists 65,782 names of what it claims are active WeWork members as of July 17.  Earlier this month, a WeWork spokesperson told TRD the company has around 64,000 members.

The database includes detailed information on each member, including whether their account is active and when it was last updated. With the help of that information, Zhen said, the company calculated WeWork’s monthly churn rate, or the number of members that cancel their membership as a share of the total number of members.

Thinknum also claims that 78.6 percent of WeWork members have never made a single post in the network, and that 60.3 percent don’t have a single follower. WeWork has always claimed that its social network is a big draw for members, who often use it to conduct business. It’s possible that even if members don’t post in the network, they may use it as a resource. WeWork claims 80 percent of its members are active in the online network.

On Friday, WeWork filed suit against a former employee, Joanna Strange, claiming Strange had leaked internal financial documents to Bloomberg News. Those documents showed WeWork recently slashed its profit projections by 78 percent.

The co-working giant, one of the largest private tenants in New York City, is currently valued at $16 billion.