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Charted: The Rise and Fall of WeWork

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Timeline chart of WeWork's valuation history, with notable events annotated.

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Charted: The Rise and Fall of WeWork

Despite its recommitment to core business fundamentals in the last few years, WeWork’s management—which saw a shakeup in May 2023 when CEO Sandeep Mathrani departed—is setting off a signal flare about the company’s future.

“Our losses and negative cash flows from operating activities raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.” — WeWork, SEC filing, August 8th, 2023.

But how did the once-poster child of Silicon Valley end up seeing its valuation collapse more than 99% from its peak?

Pulling together data from Business Insider, YCharts, SEC Filings, and Crunchbase we follow the rise and fall of WeWork since 2011.

The Rise of WeWork: 2010–2019

WeWork was founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey with the primary objective of providing shared workspaces catered to freelancers, startups, and companies seeking “flexible office solutions.”

The business model, which rested on renting space from developers long-term, renovating and parceling the property, and subsequently leasing it out to short-term clients, thrived in a decade of low interest rates.

Its valuation surpassed $1 billion in 2014, earning the coveted “unicorn” status. In 2017, SoftBank Group made the first of its total $18.5 billion investment in the company. Two years later, WeWork hit a peak valuation of $47 billion with SoftBank’s continued investments, raising expectations for an imminent IPO.

DateWeWork's Valuation
October, 2011n/a
July, 2012$97 million
May, 2013$440 million
February, 2014$1.5 billion
October, 2014$5.0 billion
June, 2015$10.2 billion
October, 2016$16.9 billion
August, 2017$21.2 billion
January, 2019$47.0 billion
August, 2019$20-30 billion
September, 2019$10-12 billion
October, 2019$8.0 billion
December, 2019$7.3 billion*
March, 2020$2.9 billion*
March, 2021$9.0 billion
October, 2021$9.0 billion
August, 2023$0.4 billion

Footnote: *SoftBank valuation is based on discounted cash flow method.

The Fall of WeWork: 2019–2023

Intensive scrutiny fueled by the impending IPO raised several questions for the company. These included concerns around Neumann’s leadership style, excessive spending, creative accounting, and conflicts of interest leading to Neumann’s resignation and delay of the IPO.

In October 2019, SoftBank Group acquired 80% of the company with $5 billion of additional funding. A month later WeWork laid off 2,400 employees, nearly one-fifth of its workforce.

Real estate veteran Sandeep Mathrani was made CEO in 2020, tasked with turning the company around by eliminating recurring costs and restructuring its debt.

That same year the COVID-19 pandemic forced a significant shift to remote work, causing a decline in office space demand. WeWork’s business model, focused on shared physical spaces, faced a substantial challenge.

In 2021, WeWork went public through a SPAC merger, aiming to regain investor trust. The listing reflected a revised strategy focusing on key markets, cost optimization, and a pivot toward catering to larger corporate clients with hybrid work needs.

Over the past two years, its market capitalization as a publicly-traded company has plummeted from $9 billion to under half a billion dollars. WeWork disclosed $11.4 billion in net losses from 2020 through to June 30th, 2023 in their recent SEC filing.

What Happened to WeWork?

Aside from the trials and tribulations of former CEO Adam Neumann, the company’s sustainability itself has been questioned several times over the past decade. In 2019, the Guardian summarized the criticism succinctly by saying, the company was “renting long and subleasing short,” which left it “exposed to risk.”

Post-pandemic, the proliferation of work-from-home policies, along with the rapid rise in global interest rates in the last year—which can reduce cash flows for the commercial real estate industry—have magnified those risks.

WeWork is now battling an environment of excess supply, softer demand, increased competition and macroeconomic volatility, according to interim CEO David Tolley.

“It was foolish of me to invest in WeWork. I was wrong.” — Masayoshi Son, SoftBank Group founder.

The New York Times says that WeWork has more than 18 million square feet of rentable office space in the U.S. and Canada alone and that its failure could have a “sizable impact” on the commercial real estate industry.

At the same time, the Times notes that reporting the “substantial doubt” on continued business operations might help the company buy time with lenders to seek additional capital through issuance of debt, equity, or the sale of assets.

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Markets

Mapped: Inflation Projections by Country, in 2024

Global inflation projections look optimistic in 2024, but risks of a second wave of price pressures remain due to geopolitical shocks.

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This map shows inflation projections around the world in 2024.

Inflation Projections, by Country in 2024

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Global economic prospects hang on a delicate balance, largely hinging on the path of inflation.

While inflation looks to be easing, there remains the risk of a second wave of price pressures driven by geopolitical conflicts and supply disruptions in the Red Sea. Adding to this, a stronger than expected labor market could drive consumer demand, pushing up higher prices.

This graphic shows 2024 inflation projections around the world, based on forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

 

Is Global Inflation On a Downward Path?

In 2024, global inflation is projected to decline to 5.8%, down from a 6.8% estimated annual average in 2023.

Tighter monetary policy and falling energy prices are forecast to dampen price pressures alongside a cooling labor market. Below, we show inflation projections across 190 countries:

CountryProjected Annual Inflation Change 2024
🇻🇪 Venezuela230.0%
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe190.2%
🇸🇩 Sudan127.3%
🇦🇷 Argentina69.5%
🇹🇷 Türkiye54.3%
🇪🇬 Egypt25.9%
🇦🇴 Angola25.6%
🇮🇷 Iran25.0%
🇧🇮 Burundi22.4%
🇸🇱 Sierra Leone21.7%
🇸🇷 Suriname20.0%
🇪🇹 Ethiopia18.5%
🇵🇰 Pakistan17.5%
🇳🇬 Nigeria15.4%
🇲🇼 Malawi15.2%
🇬🇭 Ghana15.0%
🇾🇪 Yemen15.0%
🇲🇳 Mongolia12.8%
🇭🇹 Haiti12.7%
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan10.7%
🇹🇳 Tunisia10.6%
🇹🇲 Turkmenistan10.0%
🇺🇦 Ukraine10.0%
🇲🇬 Madagascar8.6%
🇰🇬 Kyrgyz Republic8.0%
🇿🇲 Zambia7.9%
🇲🇺 Mauritius7.8%
🇬🇳 Guinea7.8%
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan7.5%
🇧🇩 Bangladesh7.2%
🇲🇲 Myanmar7.2%
🇸🇹 São Tomé and Príncipe7.2%
🇬🇲 The Gambia7.1%
🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo7.1%
🇩🇿 Algeria6.8%
🇹🇯 Tajikistan6.5%
🇳🇵 Nepal6.5%
🇰🇪 Kenya6.5%
🇲🇿 Mozambique6.5%
🇹🇴 Tonga6.2%
🇸🇸 South Sudan6.1%
🇱🇷 Liberia6.0%
🇺🇾 Uruguay5.7%
🇻🇺 Vanuatu5.6%
🇵🇱 Poland5.5%
🇬🇾 Guyana5.5%
🇷🇼 Rwanda5.5%
🇭🇺 Hungary5.4%
🇳🇦 Namibia5.3%
🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea5.2%
🇧🇹 Bhutan5.1%
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan5.0%
🇯🇲 Jamaica5.0%
🇱🇸 Lesotho5.0%
🇲🇩 Moldova5.0%
🇷🇺 Russia5.0%
🇺🇬 Uganda5.0%
🇳🇮 Nicaragua4.8%
🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea4.7%
🇷🇴 Romania4.7%
🇬🇹 Guatemala4.6%
🇼🇸 Samoa4.5%
🇿🇦 South Africa4.5%
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic4.5%
🇨🇴 Colombia4.5%
🇮🇳 India4.4%
🇧🇼 Botswana4.4%
🇸🇿 Eswatini4.3%
🇱🇻 Latvia4.3%
🇭🇳 Honduras4.2%
🇳🇷 Nauru4.2%
🇧🇪 Belgium4.0%
🇮🇸 Iceland4.0%
🇹🇿 Tanzania4.0%
🇰🇮 Kiribati4.0%
🇲🇷 Mauritania4.0%
🇵🇾 Paraguay4.0%
🇷🇸 Serbia4.0%
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic4.0%
🇦🇲 Armenia4.0%
🇧🇷 Brazil3.9%
🇸🇴 Somalia3.9%
🇹🇻 Tuvalu3.8%
🇧🇴 Bolivia3.8%
🇧🇾 Belarus3.7%
🇨🇲 Cameroon3.7%
🇽🇰 Kosovo3.7%
🇪🇪 Estonia3.6%
🇧🇧 Barbados3.6%
🇸🇧 Solomon Islands3.6%
🇦🇱 Albania3.6%
🇦🇺 Australia3.4%
🇪🇸 Spain3.4%
🇵🇭 Philippines3.4%
🇻🇳 Vietnam3.4%
🇲🇦 Morocco3.3%
🇸🇮 Slovenia3.3%
🇦🇹 Austria3.2%
🇭🇷 Croatia3.2%
🇨🇬 Republic of Congo3.2%
🇳🇴 Norway3.2%
🇸🇬 Singapore3.2%
🇲🇽 Mexico3.2%
🇹🇩 Chad3.1%
🇲🇪 Montenegro3.1%
🇱🇹 Lithuania3.1%
🇨🇷 Costa Rica3.0%
🇰🇭 Cambodia3.0%
🇮🇹 Italy3.0%
🇨🇱 Chile3.0%
🇬🇪 Georgia3.0%
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau3.0%
🇮🇶 Iraq3.0%
🇱🇦 Lao P.D.R.3.0%
🇫🇲 Micronesia3.0%
🇩🇲 Dominica2.9%
🇸🇪 Sweden2.8%
🇩🇪 Germany2.8%
🇬🇷 Greece2.7%
🇲🇾 Malaysia2.7%
🇮🇪 Ireland2.6%
🇯🇵 Japan2.6%
🇫🇯 Fiji2.6%
🇲🇭 Marshall Islands2.6%
🇬🇩 Grenada2.6%
🇺🇸 United States2.6%
🇵🇹 Portugal2.6%
🇮🇱 Israel2.6%
🇧🇸 The Bahamas2.6%
🇯🇴 Jordan2.6%
🇱🇾 Libya2.5%
🇳🇿 New Zealand2.5%
🇧🇯 Benin2.5%
🇩🇰 Denmark2.5%
🇩🇯 Djibouti2.5%
🇸🇲 San Marino2.5%
🇹🇱 Timor-Leste2.5%
🇮🇩 Indonesia2.5%
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda2.5%
🇳🇪 Niger2.5%
🇨🇫 Central African Republic2.5%
🇵🇸 West Bank and Gaza2.5%
🇲🇻 Maldives2.4%
🇲🇹 Malta2.4%
🇳🇱 Netherlands2.4%
🇸🇨 Seychelles2.4%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom2.4%
🇬🇦 Gabon2.4%
🇰🇳 St. Kitts and Nevis2.3%
🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR2.3%
🇲🇰 North Macedonia2.3%
🇦🇪 UAE2.3%
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago2.3%
🇶🇦 Qatar2.3%
🇵🇦 Panama2.2%
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia2.2%
🇵🇪 Peru2.2%
🇨🇾 Cyprus2.2%
🇨🇿 Czech Republic2.2%
🇹🇬 Togo2.2%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria2.2%
🇦🇼 Aruba2.2%
🇨🇦 Canada2.1%
🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina2.1%
🇱🇨 St. Lucia2.1%
🇦🇩 Andorra2.0%
🇧🇫 Burkina Faso2.0%
🇨🇻 Cabo Verde2.0%
🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire2.0%
🇰🇷 Korea2.0%
🇲🇱 Mali2.0%
🇻🇨 St. Vincent and the Grenadines2.0%
🇨🇭 Switzerland1.9%
🇵🇷 Puerto Rico1.9%
🇨🇳 China1.9%
🇫🇮 Finland1.9%
🇫🇷 France1.9%
🇹🇼 Taiwan1.8%
🇵🇼 Palau1.8%
🇹🇭 Thailand1.8%
🇱🇺 Luxembourg1.7%
🇸🇻 El Salvador1.7%
🇲🇴 Macao SAR1.7%
🇴🇲 Oman1.7%
🇰🇲 Comoros1.6%
🇧🇳 Brunei Darussalam1.5%
🇪🇨 Ecuador1.5%
🇧🇭 Bahrain1.4%
🇧🇿 Belize1.2%
🇸🇳 Senegal0.3%

Venezuela, with the largest oil reserves globally, is projected to see inflation reach 230%—the highest overall.

Across the last decade, the country has faced hyperinflation, reaching a stunning 10 million percent in 2019. Since U.S. sanctions were lifted last year, inflation has fallen dramatically due to sharp cuts in government spending and increasing dollarization of the economy, which is bolstering the bolivar.

In America, slower economic growth coupled with a softening labor market could ease inflation, which is forecast to reach 2.6% in 2024. While the Federal Reserve has signaled that the worst is over, unexpected momentum across the economy could cloud the outcome. As of November 2023, $290 billion in excess savings were held across American households, which may continue to spur consumer demand.

Over in Europe, inflation is anticipated to average 3.3% across advanced economies. Today, sinking natural gas prices and low GDP growth are keeping inflation expectations at bay.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, is contending with falling prices due to property market trouble, which drives about a third of the country’s economic growth. Amid sluggish economic activity, a manufacturing slowdown, and low consumer confidence, inflation is forecast to reach 1.7%.

What Could Cause Inflation to Re-Accelerate?

While inflation shocks driven from the pandemic appear to be over, key risks could drive up inflation:

  • Geopolitical Pressures: Rising shipping costs due to the conflict in the Middle East and Red Sea could continue to escalate and energy prices could increase amid disrupted supply, driving inflation higher.
  • Strong Consumer Demand: Accumulated excess savings could continue to fuel economies, leading central banks to remain hawkish. Persistently high wage growth—which increased about double the pre-pandemic average across advanced nations in 2023—could boost consumption and higher prices.
  • Rising Housing Costs: Shelter makes up about a third of the Consumer Price Index, the biggest component overall. If prices accelerate, it presents key inflationary risks. As of January 2024, U.S. shelter costs increased 6% annually.

So far, the global economy has been resilient. While risk factors remain, inflation projections suggest that the path towards a 2% target is slow, but going in the right direction.

 

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