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The Next Flex Office Unicorn: Knotel Cracks $1B Valuation With New Funding Round

A Knotel space in SoHo in New York City

It may not be WeWork's $47B, but Knotel has just reached unicorn status.

Knotel announced the closure of a $400M funding round that brings its valuation over $1B on Wednesday. A provider of on-demand office space with flexible lease terms that seeks to remain distinct from the term "coworking," Knotel nonetheless has ambitions to grow rapidly enough and large enough to rival The We Company.

Wafra, a subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority, led the fundraising, joined by a trio of Japanese investors: real estate developer Mori Trust, trading conglomerate Itochu and private equity firm Mercuria. Returning from previous fundraising rounds is a diverse group of American investors, including Newmark Knight Frank.

A private company that reaches a valuation of $1B is given the label of "unicorn" in financial circles. Though preliminary reports suggested that its next funding round could make it worth as much as $1.5B, a representative for Knotel declined to give a specific number for the company's current valuation.

When negotiations were still ongoing for the capital recruitment, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC was rumored to be involved, but the announcement made no mention of an investment from the fund.

Though Knotel's business and speed of expansion may remind some of WeWork, founder and CEO Amol Sarva has historically been more likely to criticize the coworking industry leader than to publicly emulate it.

Though WeWork has helped make flexible office space an essential piece of the office market in recent years, the financial information it had to disclose for its upcoming initial public offering raised enough concern from the market to make other operators eager to emphasize their differences