Female-Focused Coworking Operator The Wing Shutters All Locations

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The all-female coworking provider The Wing will fly no more.

The coworking company has shuttered all its locations across New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, blaming the pandemic and “global economic challenges,” according to an email the company sent to its members Tuesday.

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Its decision comes more than a year after The Wing reopened its outposts after shutting down during the pandemic, and marks an end to the troubled company. The Wing nearly went bankrupt in 2020, faced allegations of mistreating people of color and was hit with a gender discrimination lawsuit, forcing co-founder Audrey Gelman to resign. 

“The operating environment since reopening our six current locations of The Wing 14 months ago has continued to prove extremely challenging,” said the email, first reported by Insider. “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 Wing’s members “were not using” its coworking spaces in large cities and “instead wanted access to centers in suburban locations, closer to where they live,” said Mark Dixon, CEO of IWG, which bought a majority stake in The Wing in 2021. The Wing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Wing was founded in 2016 by Gelman and Lauren Kassan and started out strong with more than $100 million in fundraising from Sequoia Capital, WeWork and Airbnb. However, it struggled when WeWork sold its stake in 2019 and after the pandemic forced The Wing to close locations nationwide and fire half its corporate staff and most hourly workers.

And those employees weren’t happy beforehand — complaining of low pay, long hours and mistreatment of people of color, even while the company attempted to brand itself as an inclusive, empowering environment, The New York Times reported. The Wing also faced a 2019 lawsuit alleging its women-only admittance policy was discriminatory, leading it to quietly drop the practice, Insider reported. 

Gelman resigned as CEO in 2020 and was later replaced by a new leadership group that included Kassan. Former Care.com founder Sheila Lirio Marcelo joined the embattled coworking company as chairwoman in 2021 to help grow the firm’s wingspan worldwide. 

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.