Rakuten will not renew its contract with WeWork, says report

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has decided not to renew its contract with WeWork when it expires next month, according to a report in The Japan Times. Rakuten had leased about 700 desks in Tokyo, but is now planning to move employees from its fintech division into its own new offices.

Both WeWork and Rakuten declined to comment to TechCrunch.

Tokyo is also the headquarters of WeWork’s biggest investor, SoftBank, which took ownership of the co-working startup last October as part of a bailout deal after concerns about WeWork’s financial stability and the behavior of co-founder and former chief executive officer Adam Neumann led to the postponement of its IPO.

Due in part to its close relationship with SoftBank, WeWork has a high number of clients in Japan, but The Japan Times reports that the COVID-19 pandemic caused occupancy to drop by about 60%.

Despite its troubles, SoftBank Group chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, who took over as WeWork’s chairman after Neumann’s resignation, told the Financial Times earlier this month that the company is on target to reach operating profitability by the end of next year, thanks in part to aggressive cost-cutting measures.

He also said that even though revenues were flat during the second quarter because many tenants terminated their leases or stopped paying rent, some companies have leased WeWork spaces to serve as satellite offices close to where their employees live as they continue to work from home.