After 9 years of operations they are losing 2 billion per year, and now they want to beg for money in the stock market so they can eventually achieve their grand vision for the future of working
Wework is in the business of coworking office space. According to deskmag.com, coworking is described like this:
“What makes coworking special? An important precondition of coworking is the exceptional situation of coworkers. They work mostly in self-determined situations: the majority are self-employed freelancers, or entrepreneurs with their employees, as well as an increasing number of employees of large companies”.
It sounds great, but….it’s been 9 years now. To lose 2 billion dollars in 1 year would be a huge blow to any company. Even Google or Amazon would feel a loss like that. Whats worse is that the concept of coworking hasn’t even been proven or widely accepted yet. We don’t know yet if it is more efficient (its not, common sense goes a long way sometimes). Anybody who has worked by themselves knows very few people can do it efficiently, and this is why the standard template of executive/manager/worker will never go away. Wework is still a unique idea that is worth trying out, but building 41 billion dollars of unique office space based upon this theory is insanity. It’s almost reminiscent of China’s highly inefficient BRI, where cities are built inland far from any water source and Sri Lanken seaports go virtually unused . It’s all about that long term though right.
Regardless of how inefficient the Chinese are sometimes, they make up for it with their 996 work schedule, and you could only imagine the reaction you’d get if you showed them some of Wework’s office spaces. How is our generation supposed to compete when this is what our idea of work is. Seriously? If this is the case, we are fucked! Better start learning Mandarin sooner rather then later.
The problem with expanding a business before you even know it will work is……………………………..ehm…………………..what if your plan, that incredible all seeing vision of the future was wrong………..Or even better, what if ………things like………I don’t know………………change.
Nobody knows the future, but history is replete with people that thought they did, and the result was always the same. Just because the concept seems like it will work, doesn’t mean it will, and that is why it is usually not smart to go all in at first. Like the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and don’t go all in at first, or start small then work your way up, but history will always repeat itself, and the reason why is because human psychology will always stay the same. Some of the greatest minds the world has ever seen have made some of histories greatest mistakes. They will make excuses, or look the other way, or in Weworks case, pretend some expenses don’t actually exist by inventing completely novel and unheard of internal accounting standards.
We have all heard of EBITDA, and some of us have also heard of Adjusted-EBITDA, but have you ever heard of “Community-Adjusted-EBITDA”? Nobody has. Why? Because WeWork made it up! Not only are they innovating the world of working, but also accounting!! Genius! When you have no cash, just pretend you do and everything will be okay!
I guess General and Administrative Expense, a fundamental part of any normal business, just doesn’t count…I mean counting that would conflict with their core community vision right? Take a look at this video.
A normal business would cut growth to generate cash, or maybe even sell some assets, but because Wework is so devoted to their grand vision, and so sure it will work, doing this would be counter productive in their eyes. I mean, I guess you can understand their logic from that angle. If you know it is going to work, just find the money somewhere else, then wait for this inevitable growth to flatten out those wrinkles……..eventually…..someday……..it will work. It’s only 41 billion. Think of the market they are tapping. Everybody works, so the possibilities are almost limitless!
For more on Wework, watch this great CNBC report.