Over nine years, corporate landlord WeWork has earned a reputation as the go-to shared office start-up with about 401,000 memberships spread out across 425 locations, and now the company has finally filed its IPO to head to the stock market. The IPO will be valued at $47 billion and will be one of the most anticipated public offerings this year.
With trendy décor and tap beer and coffee, the start-up has gone upended the traditional office lease business model. But WeWork's vision comes at a steep cost, as the company more doubled its losses to $1.9 billion last year, even though revenue doubled to $1.8 billion.
To add to the worry, the biggest investor of WeWork, the Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank with $2 billion put into the business, has opted not to buy a controlling stake in its business.
To advance its services, the company has also bought Meetup, the service for bringing together aficionados of common interests like learning Dutch or knitting, in 2017. It also opened a private school in Manhattan and invested in a wave-pool company.
However, much like other members in the IPO cohort like Lyft (LYFT) and Uber, analysts worry that companies who prioritize ambition than breaking even, runs the risk of suffering when economy worsens. This applies to WeWork as well, whose long shot vision has won the company billions of dollars in funding from deep-pocketed investors, like SoftBank. The main issue would probably be the company getting trapped in long term leases with a drop in number of subscribers.