Some of 2019's biggest and most awaited IPO's have been experiencing a particularly bumpy ride. One company that has not been able to see the light of day - WeWork. WeWork went from a $47 billion valuation (which made it the nation's most valuable tech start-up) to bankruptcy in less than two months.
Issues started to arise when the company filed its S-1 IPO registration form. Investors and analysts scrambled to get a look at the filing and once they started digging what they saw was not what they hoped for at all: it disclosed numerous conflicts of interest and mismanagement from co-founder Adam Neumann, losses kept going up even as revenues increased, there was no explanation of a plan to become profitable. The risks to investors spanned almost 30 pages.
Not too long after the S-1 filing, a stream of headlines broke out disclosing Neumann's odd behavior as the company CEO and reflected his eccentricities. Neumann believed that he would become the world's first trillionaire and his goal was not to simply popularize co-working spaces but to "elevate the world's consciousness". The potential conflicts to investors were quite astounding. Neumann owned interest in several buildings that WeWork leased, has received personal loans from the company at below-market rates to fund personal investment projects along with his lavish lifestyle of private jets and mansions, and he also purchased the trademark to the "We" name which WeWork then paid to license from him. WeWork's stock fell more than 70% within 5 weeks of its filing and its credit rating was downgraded from a "B" to a "B-" credit rating due to concerns that the company might struggle to raise new capital.
WeWork seems to have succumbed to the same fate as Theranos and Uber
Neumann desperately tried to keep the IPO on track; however, after several failed attempts he stepped down as CEO, siting public scrutiny as a distraction to running the company. He was replaced by Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson, who will serve as permanent co-CEOs.