WeWork accelerates IPO plans, plots September listing

WeWork chief executive officer Adam Neumann is already rich, but soon all of the early employees and investors of the co-working giant will be too.

The business, now known as The We Company, has accelerated its plans to go public, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. WeWork is expected to unveil is S-1 filing next month ahead of a September initial public offering.

WeWork declined to provide comment for this story.

The New York-based company, valued at $47 billion earlier this year, has long been rumored to be plotting a massive IPO. The WSJ reports it’s now in the process of meeting with Wall Street banks to secure an asset-backed loan upwards of $6 billion in what could be an effort to downsize its upcoming stock offering. WeWork disclosed massive 2018 net losses of $1.9 billion in March on revenue of $1.8 billion. To convince Wall Street it’s a business worthy of their investment will be a challenge, to say the least. Seeking capital elsewhere ahead of the IPO manages expectations and ensures WeWork ultimately has the cash it needs to continue its global expansion. Here’s a look at WeWork’s expanding revenues and losses:

  • WeWork’s 2017 revenue: $886 million
  • WeWork’s 2017 net loss: $933 million
  • WeWorks 2018 revenue: $1.82 billion (+105.4%)
  • WeWork’s 2018 net loss: $1.9 billion (+103.6%)

WeWork has raised a total of $8.4 billion in a combination of debt and equity funding since it was founded in 2011. Its IPO is poised to become the second largest offering of the year behind only Uber, which was valued at $82.4 billion following its May IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

WeWork is said to have initially filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO in December, in part so it was ready to hit the public markets if other avenues for cash fell through. The business is one of several tech unicorns to attract billions from the SoftBank Vision Fund. Recently, the Japanese telecom giant eyed a majority stake in the company worth $16 billion, but scaled back their investment down to $2 billion at the last minute.

WeWork, despite mounting losses, is growing — fast. The company established a 90% occupancy rate in 2018 as membership totals rose 116%, to 401,000.

Still, whether WeWork, backed by SoftBank, Benchmark, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and Goldman Sachs, will be able to match its $47 billion valuation when it goes public this fall is questionable. Early investors will be sure to see a nice return, but late-stage investors may be nervous about their prospects.

Neumann, for his part, has reportedly cashed out of more than $700 million from his company ahead of the IPO. The size and timing of the payouts, made through a mix of stock sales and loans secured by his equity in the company, is unusual, considering that founders typically wait until after a company holds its public offering to liquidate their holdings.