- German coliving company Quarters has hired Rui Barros as its chief operating executive as it continues a US expansion.
- Barros previously held executive roles at WeWork and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, and most recently was COO of boutique hospitality group Habitas.
- Quarters had raised $1.1 billion for its European expansion and $300 million from German real estate investor Ralph Winter for its US expansion earlier this year.
- Coliving advocates promote the setup as a solution to both the millennial loneliness epidemic and rising rental costs in the largest cities, like New York.
- Read more WeWork coverage here.
German coliving company Quarters has hired Rui Barros as chief operating officer as looks to continue its US expansion.
Quarters, with 3,000 active units across 14 locations and almost 8,000 more units being developed, claims to be the largest coliving provider in Europe and the United States. The company had announced that it raised $1.1 billion for its European expansion and $300 million from German real estate investor Ralph Winter for its US expansion earlier this year.
Barros previously held multiple executive roles at WeWork and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, and most recently was COO of boutique hospitality group Habitas.
Quarters is one of two coliving brands under the Medici Living Group and operates separately from the Medici Living Group brand. The company recently kicked off its US expansion, with two sites in New York and one in Chicago already open. Other locations are opening soon in Philadelphia, Austin, Brooklyn, and Washington D.C.
“The US is our most important market,” wrote Quarters CEO Gunther Schmidt in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Coliving has, so far, had a harder time breaking into the US market than it has in Europe.
Opinions vary as to why, but whether a European penchant for sharing, an American desire for space, or other material concerns are behind the delay, Europe’s coliving giants have made their beachhead in the US this year. UK coliving brand The Collective opened its first US location in Long Island City, New York last month.
Coliving is the term for high-density residential housing with lots of shared living spaces and amenities and community programming. Coliving advocates promote it as a solution to both the millennial loneliness epidemic and rising rental costs in the cities like New York. The term comes from the sharing economy and shares its “co” prefix with coworking.
WeWork has its own coliving brand called WeLive. WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann, in a 2014 pitch to investors, said WeLive would have 34,000 tenants by 2018, according to the New York Times. Now, the two operating WeLive buildings are also in use as hotels for stays of any length.
Barros got his first taste of the coliving experience while living at the WeLive in New York City for a period of time. Barros came to WeWork as SVP of global operations, and later was the head of tri-state and the head of operations for the eastern US and Canada.
Barros began his career in hospitality 30 years ago, eventually becoming Wyndham Hotels & Resorts president and managing director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and then for North American franchising. His father was a chef from Portugal, and introduced him to hospitality from a young age.
“WeWork came into my life because I was always really passionate about community, having been the son of immigrant parents,” Barros told Business Insider.
This same interest in community brought him to coliving, which he described as a platform for people to “connect in a meaningful way.” He came to Quarters because he believes that we’re “just scratching the surface” with coliving’s popularity.
Barros was at WeWork from 2016 to 2018, years which marked rapid expansion and large investment from SoftBank. Barros declined to comment when asked about the potential perils of rapid growth in the context of WeWork’s failed attempt to go public, and praised his former colleagues.
At Quarters, he hopes that growth will be responsible, and highlighted the importance of expansion being extremely “process-oriented.”