3. WeWork

Reworking the office

Founders: Adam Neumann (CEO), Miguel McKelvey
Launched: 2010
Funding: $1.99 billion (PitchBook)
Valuation: $18 billion (PitchBook)
Disrupting: Office space
Rival: Commercial real estate

George Kavallines

WeWork, the New York City-based company that provides shared work spaces for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small start-ups, is now attracting Fortune 500 companies. Late last year the company signed a deal with Microsoft, giving its global and marketing teams access to its own custom-designed space at two WeWork locations in New York City. The move is a nod to the needs of big companies looking for flexible real estate solutions for an ever more mobile and far-flung workforce.

Read More FULL LIST: 2017 DISRUPTOR 50

Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey got the idea for WeWork back in 2010 when they were both working in a partially vacant office building in Brooklyn. Neumann was selling baby clothing, and McKelvey was an architect. They convinced the landlord to let them rent out the empty space as shared work spaces, and the idea for WeWork was hatched.

Today the company says more than 100,000 people in 65 major U.S. cities, as well as 44 international cities, use WeWork's shared office space — ranging in price from $45 to $450 per month, depending on the amenities. WeWork rents its office space from landlords, transforms it into a communal space and then rents it out month to month to individuals and small businesses. Renters are typically younger workers who are attracted to the arcade games, cushy couches and free beer on tap at most locations.

In February the company raised $300 million from Japan's SoftBank, bringing its total funding to nearly $2 billion and giving WeWork a valuation of $18 billion, according to PitchBook.

Latest Special Reports

  • CNBC Changemakers

    CNBC Changemakers: Women Transforming Business is an annual list spotlighting women whose accomplishments have left an indelible mark on the business world.

  • Geoff Cutmore, Steve Sedgwick and Karen Tso lead you into the open of the European markets.

  • The Just 100 is an annual ranking of America’s largest publicly traded companies on issues that define 'just' business behavior and reflect the priorities of the American public, produced in partnership with research nonprofit Just Capital.