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We (Doesn’t) Work

The big news of the week is the downward spiral of WeWork and its founder Adam Neumann. The biggest loser is SoftBank, which invested in the company based on a $47 billion valuation that looks today to have been wildly overblown. Not only that, the company burned through $2 billion in 2018 and by most estimates, they will run through what cash is on hand sometime this year. Topping off the news of the week, many of the shareholders of WeWork want to sack Neumann and strip him of his CEO role.

Aside from the financial challenges the company faces, Neumann has been exposed this week for eccentric behavior, self-dealing, and drug use. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Neumann took marijuana on a flight from NYC to Israel, and the plane owner ordered it to turn around.

Of course all of this makes for interesting news, but the real news will probably play out in the hundreds of office buildings where WeWork has leased large blocks of space. I am quite sure that there are thousands of financial reports and analysis being prepared that catalogue the impact of the potential demise of WeWork. According to some reports, at the end of 2018 WeWork had about $34 billion in lease obligations up from $18.2 billion a year earlier. However you want to slice it, there is a mess ahead, and let’s hope it’s not a train wreck.

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