How intrapreneurship helped grow WeWork Latin America

WeWork Latin America head of real estate Ary Krivopisk and his team made the rules as they went along—and two years later, there are 34 WeWork locations and counting

Ary Krivopisk and I catch up over the phone as he is in a cab returning from the airport. The past week has taken him from Argentina to Mexico to New York, and he is now heading straight to his office in São Paulo. As WeWork’s head of real estate for Latin America (LATAM), Krivopisk travels around the continent on a weekly basis, leading a team of 40 across six countries in the identification, negotiation, and conversion of new spaces. “Everything starts with the building,” he says. “Without the building, there is no WeWork.”

He hasn’t always been this busy. When Krivopisk started out at the company in 2015, WeWork had barely established a presence in Latin America—there were four signed buildings, none yet open—and he was a team of one. “No one knew who we were,” says Krivopisk. “There was a lot of skepticism, people kept telling me this wouldn’t work here.”

Today, Latin America is WeWork’s fastest-growing region. WeWork grew to 50,000 members in its first five years; LATAM reached 50,000 members in three years of operation.

For native Argentinian Krivopisk, this growth has been a dream come true. “Finance and real estate are my two passions,” says Krivopisk, who previously worked as a financial strategist and trader in Miami. Despite finding the financial sector thrilling, he felt a desire to build something more concrete. “I remember my grandfather, who was a developer, showing me the buildings he had made around town,” he says. “What was amazing was that he left physical buildings that you could see and touch.”

In 2012, Krivopisk quit finance to follow this dream to Brazil, to work in real estate and development. “I sat down with my wife to get her blessing, and we got a flight from Miami to Brazil.” There he joined FSA Group, working on several successful real estate and development partnerships, including one that brought the Hyatt Place brand to the country. But three years later, Brazil was engulfed in a financial crisis, and business took a downturn. Krivopisk left FSA—and not long after, he was introduced to WeWork by a friend.

The first thing that struck Krivopisk about his new job at WeWork was how much faster things move—taking just nine months to go from identifying a site to fully built offices, versus up to a more typical three years. “We would look at the buildings and imagine what it could become,” he says. “And then you see it become a space filled with people and this incredible energy.”

He brought his vision and determination to every new city he visited, expanding WeWork’s footprint from Mexico to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Chile. Since 2016, the growth has been exponential; the region established seven WeWork locations in the first year and another 27 in the second. “In two-and-a-half years we accomplished in LATAM what WeWork had accomplished in all the years before,” Krivopisk boasts.

Krivopisk with his four children. Photograph courtesy of Ary Krivopisk

He uses the term intrapreneurship (as opposed to entrepreneurship) to describe what he and his team were doing during those early years. “We built a startup within a big company,” he explains. “There were no rules on how to do it—we just had to make it happen.”

Building communities is not new to Krivopisk. He has been deeply involved in three synagogues worldwide: one in Buenos Aires, where he and four others got the ball rolling on creating and building a community around it; another in Miami, where he was involved in programming and funding; and a third that he supports close to his home in São Paulo, having secured permission from the community to build it, supporting it financially, and getting involved in events.

“Growing up in Argentina, there was this guy that always hosted 10 to 15 of us for lunch at his house after the prayers,” he says of the incredible bonds in the Jewish community of his youth. “That marked me for life, and so we decided to do the same in Miami.”

Much of what inspires Krivopisk in his work is grounded in the values of community and family he has always held close. “It’s impossible to do what I do without the help and support of my wife,” he says. A few years ago, the youngest of their four children was diagnosed with autism. “It was a little bit shocking at the beginning, but we learned so much. Having a child with autism is also understanding that not everything happens how you expect it to, and still, we can make things amazing. You feel that nothing is impossible.”

Doing the impossible has been a guiding mantra for Krivopisk and his team since day one. “At WeWork we say, every day the impossible, and every week, a miracle,” he says. The evolution from having a tiny presence in Latin America four years ago to a full-scale operation that includes local teams in every country might look like a miracle, but for Krivopisk there is still a long way to go.

“We build, we bring people together, we create a community, and that has a tremendous effect on people’s lives,” he says. “To look back and see all we have accomplished is an incentive—but we are just warming up.”

Interested in workspace? Get in touch.