WeWork (PRIVATE: WEWORK) might be making noise for its plans to go public, but it should be looking in the rearviewmirror at a somewhat under-discussed competitor, Knotel. Knotel (PRIVATE: KNOTEL) is also stirring some chatter about an IPO, and some might say the future is even brighter for Knotel in the long run.

In short, here's what we found: Knotel's surgical location strategy in major cities bodes well in terms of scalability, but its social media momentum could use a boost.

Location strategy gives Knotel urban advantage

Knotel doesn't have the international outlay in terms of location that WeWork does quite yet, but it does list more than 200 locations in the biggest cities in the world (NYC, London, DC, LA, Paris, Toronto, Berlin, Rio, San Francisco, several others too). Knotel's location strategy appears to include going after high-population cities and then dominating them. As of today, for instance, Knotel has more buildings in New York City to its name than WeWork, and it's on its way to doing the same in London.

...we are adding about a dozen more cities. Not 1,200. No-one makes money in Cairo. - CEO Amol Sarva

Knotel's social media strategy needs work

Facebook "Were Here" metrics provide a useful method of measureing changes in foot traffic over time, as it counts the number of selfies, status updates, and checkins tagged to a particular business location based on geo data. In this case, the trend for Knotel on this metric so far is healthy. WeWork has had years to build up, and Knotel has the same path to do the same.

The Knotel Were Here count is slowly going up, over the last few months, which is nice, but its Were Here numbers pale in comparison to those of WeWork. This signals an opportunity for Knotel to build when it comes to its social media strategy. Its Facebook page, for instance, only has 1,466 likes. Meanwhile, has collected 1.3 million likes.

Of course, social media marketing isn't everything, but when WeWork has an audience of 1.3 million on the world's largest social network to which it can regularly send brand messaging, it has a clear advantage. It's a curious lapse, it seems, on the part of Knotel.

Workforce growth steady but measured

When it comes to company growth as measured by employee count, Knotel has nearly doubled according to numbers reported by LinkedIn over time. Meanwhile, WeWork has tripled its headcount in roughly the same time period.

So while the overall numbers are in WeWork's favor, it's the trends in the data that may get one excited about Knotel's future. Both of these companies play in real estate as much as they do in tech, so their approaches will manifest in major differences. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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