Early next year, the first three floors of the 500 Yale Ave. North building in South Lake Union will become a shared workspace for tech startups and small businesses — complete with free beer.
WeWork, a New York-based operator of shared work spaces in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, recently leased 55,000 square feet at 500 Yale to establish its first Seattle hub. That was a coup for Irvine, Calif.-based LBA Realty, which bought the 71,420- square-foot building last year for $49 million.
WeWork’s business model is selling month-to-month memberships, which cover office overhead like utilities, Internet and trash removal, with the added benefit of being part of a community of entrepreneurs. WeWork also connects members to health-care plans, credit-card processing vendors and small-business experts to grow their ventures.
“We’ve designed an office that really fits with the modern worker,” said Noah Brodsky, chief experience officer at WeWork. “People need less privacy, less space. It’s part of the sharing economy.”
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WeWork locations typically have between 500 and 1,500 members, about one-fifth of whom are tech workers, he said.
The office space takes many cues from tech companies, he said: Desks are easy to move and configure for projects. The amenities include a game room, large kitchens, and free beer and coffee on every floor. The company organizes regular events to create a sense of community.
And WeWork members in Seattle traveling to other cities where WeWork has locations can use those facilities too, Brodsky said.
But, really, free beer?
“Different people need different things to get them through the day and late nights,” Brodsky said.
— Sanjay Bhatt
Consumers irked about credit reports
When thinking about buying a house, a car, or getting any kind of loan, having a good credit score is crucial to being approved and getting a decent interest rate. But, does everyone know what their score is, how to check it or if the information on their report is correct?
Numerous studies by the WashPIRG Foundation, Washington’s public-interest research group, found that millions of Americans have serious errors on their credit reports, which can reduce their ability to get an affordable loan, rent an apartment or even find a job.
In its latest report, the foundation found Washington ranks 23rd nationally in credit-report complaints per 100,000 residents. The credit-reporting agency with the most gripes in the state is Experian, one of three nationwide credit-reporting agencies that acts as a gatekeeper to financial and employment opportunities, Chris Esh, program associate with the WashPIRG Foundation, said in a news release.
According to the report, the most common problem was discovering incorrect information, which accounted for 65 percent of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the government agency created in 2010 to identify dangerous and unfair financial practices in the financial world.
The WashPIRG Foundation encourages consumers to check their credit reports regularly and inform the consumer bureau quickly if there are errors.
“The CFPB’s public-consumer complaints database is an invaluable tool to hold credit-reporting agencies accountable,” Esh said in the news release.
This is the third in a series of five reports the WashPIRG Foundation has released that analyze the grievances in the consumer bureau’s database, but the first to examine credit-report criticisms. Upcoming reports will analyze complaints relating to credit cards and debt collection, according to the release.
Experian did not respond to requests for comment.
— Coral Garnick