Sunday 22 September 2019

WeWork files for IPO amid flurry of tech flotations

CEO of WeWork, Adam Neumann
CEO of WeWork, Adam Neumann

Ellen Huet

WEWORK, the world's biggest co-working company, is planning to go public, joining a wave of highly-valued technology startups moving to the US markets.

The New York-based company - which has six premises across Dublin - said Monday it filed paperwork confidentially with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to hold an initial public offering.

Please log in or register with for free access to this article.

Log In

WeWork, which rents office space to companies and freelancers, would likely be the year's biggest US IPO after Uber, which expects to start trading next week.

WeWork, which also goes by the brand We Co, was most recently valued at $47bn (€41.90bn) in a January investment from SoftBank, its biggest investor.

Similar to the crop of other big-name tech IPOs this year, such as Uber and Lyft, WeWork runs a business with eye-watering losses. That's due in part to heavy real-world expenses, such as building-lease commitments that can last 15 years. The company lost $1.93bn on $1.82bn in sales last year.

In an email to staff Monday, WeWork's chief executive officer, Adam Neumann, painted the company's responsibilities in the lofty terms expected of a company whose mission is to "elevate the world's consciousness." The email's subject line read: "Just Getting Started."

"We have regularly focused on how to take our business to the next level in every aspect," Mr Neumann wrote in the email viewed by Bloomberg.

"Partly due to technology and partly due to the times we live in, the world has never felt smaller and yet more people than ever are sharing that they feel alone.

"As one of the world's largest physical networks, it is our responsibility to help lead the way and set the global example for people and corporations on how we should take care of each other and of our planet."

Since its founding in 2010, WeWork has raised more than $12bn in funding, most of it from SoftBank. The Japanese conglomerate has reshaped the world of tech startups with its $100bn fund backed by Saudi Arabia. SoftBank is a major investor in several of the biggest public offerings planned for this year, including Uber and Slack Technologies.

WeWork said it initially filed plans to go public in December and recently issued updated documents. Around the time WeWork first filed with regulators, the company was in talks with SoftBank to sell a majority stake.


Irish Independent

Also in Business