Interview with Ryan Simonetti, CEO of Convene - Part II


Ryan Simonetti

Click here for Part IPart III

Transforming collaboration and co-working with strategic partnerships and a robust technology platform

Ryan Simonetti is the co-founder and CEO of Convene. Founded in 2009, Convene aims to transform the way people meet and work together—by partnering with landlords to design, build, and operate a premium network of meeting and event facilities, flexible workspaces, and hospitality amenities. The company’s unique collaboration model is powered by a proprietary mobile technology platform that provides tenants with intuitive building experiences while giving landlords sophisticated insights into property use. Convene is currently available in select locations in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago, with more cities coming soon.

EDWIN WARFIELD: You founded Convene before coworking really hit the mainstream. How do you fit into the market alongside companies like WeWork and Regus?

RYAN SIMONETTI: Regus existed at the time. We actually started the company before WeWork. Obviously, they’ve had an exponential rise, and I think to some extent we as others in the industry have really gotten the benefit of what they’ve done as it relates to building awareness to the underlying thesis, which I think is the question that you’re asking.

Q. What do you think was behind the explosive rise of coworking?

A. What I realized back in 2007, 2008, and particularly around office real estate—and this will get to I think the underlying vision for Convene—was two things: One, if you talked to a building owner at that time, they would never tell you that the customer was their tenant or let alone the human being in the building; they would actually tell you it’s probably the capital markets. What I realized about spending time with hoteliers is that they create value by obsessing over the human experience within the asset: What does it mean to be a guest in my hotel? What is it like when you show up? What is it like while you are here? What is the food experience like? What is the hospitality feel like—how do we make you feel? That language was not present within the commercial office industry at that time. Now, today, because of companies like us and others, every landlord today is talking about human experience and amenitization, but at that time, the pioneering concept was to reimagine human experience in an office building for tenants through hospitality.

The second part of the thesis was around the way that companies consume real estate. You and I started to have this conversation a little bit ago. In a world of increasing complexity due to technological change, demographics, globalization, political dynamics—however you want to define that—agility is the only way to fight speed and complexity. And real estate is probably the only thing left that a company doesn’t consume in an agile way. That means as a tenant, I am asked to predict where my business is going to be 10 years from now, seven years from now, 15 years from now; not just where is my business is going to be but, how many people are going to work for me? What is the design of my office going to need to be? What does my technology infrastructure need to be? Which location do I need to be in?

I had an epiphany and just said, “You know what? That makes no sense, and if given a better option, would companies consume real estate in a different way?” The thesis for Convene was one about using hospitality to create the human experience in an office building; the second was to create a network of physical spaces—meeting spaces, hospitality amenity spaces, and flexible workspaces—that allowed both tenants in the building, as well as companies that wanted to use Convene’s network, to buy their real estate in a different way, where I can buy a meeting room by the day or by the hour, or I could buy my workspace by the year, the month, or the multiyear, but I don’t have to commit to a 10- to 30-year obligation. That’s the journey that we have been on executing that, which is, number one, improve human experience through hospitality; and then number two, create a network of flexible real estate solutions that speak to the needs of both small business and for us, really core, large Fortune 1000 enterprise.

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Sponsored by:


Newmark Knight Frank (NKF) is one of the world's leading commercial real estate advisory firms. Together with London-based partner Knight Frank and independently-owned offices, NKF's 15,000 professionals operate from more than 400 offices in established and emerging property markets on six continents.

With roots dating back to 1929, NKF's strong foundation makes it one of the most trusted names in commercial real estate. NKF's full-service platform comprises BGC's real estate services segment, offering commercial real estate tenants, landlords, investors and developers a wide range of services including leasing; capital markets services, including investment sales, debt placement, appraisal, and valuation services; commercial mortgage brokerage services; as well as corporate advisory services, consulting, project and development management, and property and corporate facilities management services. For further information, visit

NKF is a part of BGC Partners, Inc., a leading global brokerage company servicing the financial and real estate markets. BGC's common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol (NASDAQ: BGCP). BGC also has an outstanding bond issuance of Senior Notes due June 15, 2042, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol (NYSE: BGCA). BGC Partners is led by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer  Howard W. Lutnick. For more information, please visit

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