With Investment From IWG, New Leaders, The Wing Is Piecing Together Its Future
Women’s club The Wing is shaking up its leadership team after global coworking giant IWG provided a cash injection last month.
Founder and former CEO of Care.com Sheila Lirio Marcelo has been named executive chairwoman of its board of directors, FastCompany reports. Laura Kassan, The Wing co-founder and previously its chief operating officer, has been formally named CEO.
The company, founded in 2016 as a coworking space catering exclusively to women, was rumored to be close to bankruptcy last year. IWG invested in the company in February to help it expand. Marcelo has been advising the firm since last year, and she is now joining its board, per Fast Company.
“Sheila has dedicated her career and life’s work to ensuring women have the resources they need to succeed and fulfill their dreams,” Wing investor and Sequoia partner Jess Lee told the publication. "Not only does Sheila know what it’s like to lead and grow a successful company, she knows the unique challenges that come with being a woman—especially a woman of color—in the workplace.”
Care.com is an online marketplace for finding carers for children, pets and seniors; Marcelo founded it in 2006 after facing difficulties finding people to care for both her children and parents while she was at work.
She told FastCompany she sees a lot of overlap between Care.com and the Wing, as they both involve creating space for women. She is joining the board at a tumultuous time for the Wing, which like many coworking companies, has been battered by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
A year ago, the company laid off most of its staff and then in the summer it was sued by Thor Equities over claims it hadn’t paid rent. WeWork had invested in the business under former CEO Adam Neumann, but it sold its stake to investors including Google Venture and Mindy Kaling in the fallout of Neumann's ouster.
The Wing's former CEO and founder, Audrey Gelman, resigned last June, after months of allegations its workplace culture was toxic and discriminatory against people of color, The New York Times reported. Employees staged a digital walkout following the resignation, slamming the Wing’s “dysfunctional company structure” and failing to employ the “intersectional feminism” it peddled to the world.
Following Gelman’s resignation, Kassan and three others were installed in what the firm described as the “Office of the CEO." The two others have since left.
IWG, the largest flex office owner in the world and now the majority owner in the Wing, recently reached deals with Standard Chartered and the Norwegian division of EY to set up hub-and-spoke office models.
“What became clear in the second half of last year was that lots of companies would stick with hybrid working beyond the crisis,” IWG CEO Mark Dixon told Bisnow last month. “Companies are now openly declaring that they are going hybrid.”