Coworking Space Provider WeWork Files For Bankruptcy
WeWork (NYSE: WE), the once high-flying coworking space company co-founded by Adam Neumann, has filed for bankruptcy protection amid a…
WeWork (NYSE: WE), the once high-flying coworking space company co-founded by Adam Neumann, has filed for bankruptcy protection amid a broader commercial real estate slump. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a New Jersey federal court on Monday. It also filed for similar proceedings in Canada.
The bankruptcy filing caps a big fall for a company once valued at $47bn in a funding round led by Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank. WeWork raised over $22bn in equity and debt funding from investors, majorly from SoftBank. It debuted on the public markets by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in October 2021.
- Adam Neumann co-founded WeWork in 2010 alongside Miguel McKelvey. He grew WeWork into a fashionable coworking space provider with prime office locations across the globe. Neumann expanded largely with financial backing from SoftBank, a Japanese conglomerate chaired by billionaire Masayoshi Son.
Under Neumann’s stewardship, WeWork spent lavishly as losses soared. The company sought to list its shares on the public markets and published an S-1 filing in 2019. This filing revealed mounting losses and questionable spending, such as investing in a company that made artificial surfing waves and millions of dollars in lease payments to corporate entities affiliated with Neumann.
The S-1 filing spooked investors and caused SoftBank, the largest shareholder, to step in and clean the house. SoftBank ousted Neumann with a $445mn payout, $200mn in cash and $245mn in extra WeWork shares. Soon after, WeWork debuted on the public markets by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company, and according to CNBC, Neumann collected $770mn in cash from the merger alone.
SoftBank invested over $16bn in WeWork and has taken a big haircut on its investment. Neumann, on the other hand, exited with a lot of dough. He founded a new real estate venture called Flow, which raised $350mn from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz last year.
In a press statement, Neumann said, “It has been challenging for me to watch from the sidelines since 2019 as WeWork has failed to take advantage of a product that is more relevant today than ever before. I believe that, with the right strategy and team, a reorganization will enable WeWork to emerge successfully.”
Some speculate that Neumann will try to acquire WeWork from bankruptcy and become the ship’s captain again.
- WeWork’s bankruptcy filing lists $15bn of assets and nearly $19bn of debt. The company will continue operating as it undergoes bankruptcy restructuring. It said it had struck a debt restructuring agreement with creditors representing 92% of its secured notes, which includes cutting back its office space portfolio.
- WeWork was valued at $9bn when it merged with a special-purpose acquisition company two years ago. Now, it’s almost worthless, adding to the long list of SPAC bankruptcies.
Update: We corrected this article to indicate that SoftBank invested over $16bn in WeWork, instead of the $18bn as previously stated.