WeWork buys tech firm to track and record movements in workplaces

A co-working space surveillance scene (Credit: iStock and Pixabay)

WeWork’s chief product officer said they’re aiming for a “Google analytics for space,” but their new tech acquisition raises questions about privacy in the workplace.

The company just bought Euclid, a platform that monitors people’s movement in physical space, for an undisclosed sum, according to TechCrunch. The purchase comes just months after WeWork, recently valued at $47 billion, spent $100 million in cash for Teem, an office management startup.

The new data platform offers “workplace insights,” according to WeWork’s chief product officer, Shiva Rajaraman. He told TechCrunch the company plans to use Euclid alongside Teem’s conference room-booking capabilities to show customers what rooms were booked, and how many people turned up to events.

The move raises obvious questions about privacy, and whether individuals can be identified using the software. Rajaraman didn’t deny that possibility but said customers would be more interested in the bigger picture.

“We’re committed to respecting the privacy of our members and these employees,” he said, “We’re looking at the aggregate level to understand how space is being used. We’re less interested in the individual. If I throw a large party, I’m interested in knowing why 40 people showed up versus 100; it’s not as interesting to see who individually showed up.”

Rajarman said the technology would be tested internally at WeWork offices in Shanghai, Tel Aviv, New York and San Francisco before being rolled out to consumers.

This is only the latest tech investment by WeWork in recent years. They also own Flatiron School, a coding platform; Case, which offers construction technology; and MeetUp, an event organizing site.

Following the news that backer SoftBank would pare back a $16 billion investment to $2 billion, CEO Adam Neumann in January rebranded the firm as the We Company, with WeWork being one of its three primary business lines. [TechCrunch] – Decca Muldowney

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