The Wing Permanently Shutters Its Coworking Spaces

The Wing’s Lauren Kassan with 25 W 39th Street (Loopnet, LinkedIn, Getty)

The Wing’s wings have been permanently clipped.

The coworking startup has permanently shut down its six US locations effective immediately, the company wrote in an email to members on Tuesday. Insider was the first to report the shutdown.

The startup told the publication that it has arranged for workspace and membership needs to be handled by coworking space operator IWG.

The firm described the months since it reopened its coworking spaces during the pandemic as “extremely challenging.”

“With the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and increasing global economic challenges, we have been unable to recover and grow the level of active membership and event activity necessary to run a financially sustainable operation,” the company wrote.

The Wing was co-founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan in 2016 as an all-female co-working space. At its peak, the company had 11 locations in two countries. The firm eventually downsized to six locations: three in New York City and one each in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But in recent years, the company has had financial problems that were exacerbated by the pandemic and allegations of workplace discrimination.

The Wing faced a lawsuit in 2018 that argued the startup’s female-only membership was discriminatory. The company later amended its membership policy to allow all genders to join.

The firm’s valuation plummeted from $365 million in 2018 to $200 million in 2020 after WeWork divested its stake following its botched IPO. The Wing’s revenue dropped by 95 percent in the pandemic as the company was forced to close its coworking spaces and lay off employees.

The startup came under further scrutiny in 2020 when the New York Times reported allegations of racism and workplace discrimination against its employees of color. Employees told the publication that they weren’t paid enough for “immense physical, intellectual and emotional labor.”

Amid the backlash, Gelman stepped down as CEO, saying it was “the right thing for the business” and the best way to bring the Wing “into a long overdue era of change.” She was replaced by a three-person team consisting of Kassan, Celestine Maddy and Ashley Peterson.

When The Wing reopened its locations last year, the startup rolled out a slew of more diverse faces to its board of directors. The company also started an advisory board to guide the board of directors and management on operations and diversity moving forward.

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