Topline: WeWork, which last week accepted a $9.5 billion bailout offer from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group, recently trademarked a new professional gaming arm called Play By We, according to an application published by the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office last week that was first reported on by Bloomberg.
- WeWork parent We Co. is in the early stages of quietly building a new electronic-gaming business, Bloomberg first reported on Tuesday.
- Bloomberg also found that WeWork has already hired several new employees for the venture and additionally found two now-expired job listings for Play By We—one for a content and experience manager and another for a delivery project manager based in New York.
- Play By We will reportedly be an entertainment services brand focused on professional gaming and esports, as well as hosting various tournaments and contests. The application implies that given its huge real-estate footprint, WeWork could rent out office space and provide facilities for video-gaming competitions and events, according to Bloomberg.
- The besieged startup has already branched into other businesses—although it has been divesting assets from some of them—like education with WeGrow, fitness with Rise By We and co-living with WeLive.
- WeWork declined Forbes’ request for comment.
Big number: Competitive gaming, or esports, is rapidly gaining popularity and growing into a lucrative industry. The global esports market will be worth over $1 billion in 2019—and almost $2 billion by 2022, according to Newzoo, the leading analytics provider for the industry.
Key background: WeWork has imploded in recent months, following a disastrous IPO attempt and ouster of CEO and founder Adam Neumann. The startup, which has been bleeding money, was forced to choose between two bailout packages in order to save its business and avoid running out of money. WeWork eventually accepted a $9.5 billion bid from its biggest shareholder, SoftBank Group—a severe discount from WeWork’s $47 billion valuation at the start of the year. Most recently following the takeover, WeWork was reportedly planning to slash 4,000 jobs—or 30% of its workforce—in an effort to further cut costs.