Why this top Chinese investor just opened a cross-border co-working space in Seattle

Inside the new OnePiece Work co-working space in Seattle. (OnePiece Work Photos)

Wei Guo loves WeWork. He just thinks his co-working space offers something a little different.

Guo, a high-profile early-stage Chinese investor who has backed more than 300 startups, is the founder of OnePiece Work, a “cross-border” co-working space operator that just expanded outside of California for the first time with a new location in Seattle.

OnePiece Work offers similar amenities to WeWork, which has close to 20 locations in the Seattle region, and a bevy of other co-working spaces around town. Its Seattle outpost, located downtown at 720 3rd Ave, has desk space, conference rooms, common work areas, and more. It’s the eighth location for OnePiece Work, with additional outposts across Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.

OnePiece Work aims to provide members with a “gateway” to international markets. The company is a manifestation of the work that Guo has done over the past decade between China and the U.S., the world’s top two tech economies.

Wei Guo. (OnePiece Work Photo)

Guo is a Forbes 30 under 30 investor whose portfolio includes startups such as Lime, Boom, Hims, and various companies based in the U.S. and China. He launched the Wei Fund in 2015 and UpHonest Capital in 2017, raising investment from both U.S. and Chinese investors. His exits include Scout, Chariot, Worklife, Virtroid, and tbh.

“We focus on people who want to expand globally, who have this global DNA,” Guo told GeekWire.

OnePiece Work also hopes to build stronger tech connections between the U.S. and China amid a politically-charged environment most recently highlighted by the Huawei controversies and new Trump administration policies that are reportedly curbing Chinese investments in U.S. tech startups.

“We want to be a bridge between the two largest economies in the world,” Guo said. “There’s a gap, and we can help minimize it.”

There are several existing tech-related connections between Seattle and China. Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu all have sizable engineering offices in the region. A first-of-its-kind U.S.-China tech institute run by the University of Washington and Tsinghua University, and funded in part by Microsoft, recently graduated its first class.

China President Xi Jinping spent three days in Seattle four years ago as part of a visit that included meetings with Microsoft and Boeing. At the time, the president said Washington was the leading state in U.S. exports to China, and China was the No. 1 trading partner of the Port of Seattle.

Inside OnePiece Work Seattle. (OnePiece Photo)

Guo said OnePiece Work was drawn to Seattle because of the region’s engineering and data science talent. He’s also noticed a difference between entrepreneurs in Seattle and other places such as Silicon Valley, which he described as “crowded” and “too competitive” with “too much noise.”

“Every time I’ve been to Seattle, I feel like it’s quiet — it makes people think independently and deeply,” said Guo, who spends most of his time in the Bay Area. “That’s the good thing about Seattle entrepreneurs — they look quiet, but on the inside they have a deep understanding of their industry and their business. They think a lot.”

He’s not the first to point out differences between tech workers in the two regions. This week at our GeekWire Cloud Summit, Icertis CEO Samir Bodas noted that “Seattle is a great place if you are building a startup for the long game.”

Guo said he’s looking to invest in Seattle-area startups. He’s most excited about data-driven companies working in industries such as real estate, food tech, IoT, and e-commerce.

Current startups working out of OnePiece Work in Seattle include Seattle Food Tech, maker of plant-based meat, and 6crickets, a company that helps parents find after-school programs and camps for their kids.

Guo’s VC firm, UpHonest Capital, is currently investing out of its third fund. The company makes investments across the U.S. and China, but is also expanding to other areas such as Latin America and Southeast Asia.

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