What Happened to Wework?

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Written By Angelo Sorbello

Tech entrepreneur and passionate about business



Despite its initial rise as a prominent player in the commercial real estate industry, WeWork's journey has been marred by controversy and a series of missteps.

Critics argue that the company's unconventional leadership style, questionable practices, and toxic work environment ultimately led to its downfall.

Moreover, concerns surrounding its unsustainable business model and failed IPO further contributed to its struggles.

In this article, we will delve into the factors that led to WeWork's demise and explore similar business failures in the industry, shedding light on the challenges faced by companies in this sector.

Key Takeaways

  • WeWork's unconventional leadership style and questionable behavior, particularly by its co-founder Adam Neumann, played a significant role in the company's trajectory.
  • The company's unsustainable business model relied on charging more than it paid landlords and was vulnerable to downturns in the tech start-up industry.
  • WeWork's failed IPO resulted in a substantial devaluation of the company, leading to a crisis and the need for acquisition and restructuring.
  • Similar business failures, such as Netscape, Musical.ly, Vine, and CNN Plus, highlight the challenges faced by companies in the rapidly changing and competitive market.

Background and Company Culture

WeWork's founding duo, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, set out to establish a unique company culture that would attract tech start-ups and foster a sense of community within shared workspaces. However, their vision was marred by allegations of toxic leadership and questionable behavior.

While employees worked long hours, they were compensated with glamorous parties and extravagant perks. Former employees accused Neumann of being a toxic individual, resembling a cult leader. This toxic leadership style created a tense and unstable work environment.

Moreover, the company's employee compensation strategy was unsustainable, relying on charging more than it paid landlords who provided concessions like reduced or free rent. These factors, combined with Neumann's potential conflict of interest with commercial properties, raised concerns about WeWork's long-term viability.

Unsustainable Business Model

What led to the downfall of WeWork's business model?

The unsustainable nature of WeWork's business model played a significant role in its downfall. Here are the key factors that contributed to its unsustainability:

  • Financial implications: WeWork relied on charging higher rates for office spaces than it paid to landlords, who often provided concessions like reduced or free rent. This model left the company vulnerable to economic downturns and fluctuations in the tech start-up industry. Additionally, concerns were raised about the potential conflict of interest between WeWork and Neumann's personal commercial properties.
  • Impact on employees: While WeWork offered extravagant perks and glamorous parties, the company's unsustainable business model ultimately had a negative impact on its employees. The company had to undergo cost-cutting measures, including layoffs and the elimination of perks like free beer. These actions created uncertainty and instability for WeWork's workforce.
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The combination of these financial implications and the impact on employees ultimately contributed to the downfall of WeWork's business model.

Failed IPO

The IPO failure marked a significant turning point for WeWork, leading to a substantial devaluation of the company and triggering a crisis mode response.

The company's initial public offering (IPO) was highly anticipated but ended in disappointment. The IPO documents revealed questionable practices and a lack of profitability, causing investors to question the company's viability.

WeWork's failed IPO had far-reaching consequences, not only for the company itself but also for its investors. The devaluation of the company resulted in significant losses for shareholders, eroding confidence in the company's management and business model.

Lessons learned from this experience include the importance of transparency and profitability in IPO preparations, as well as the need for investors to carefully evaluate the fundamentals of a company before investing.

Acquisition and Restructuring

After the failed IPO, the company underwent a significant acquisition and restructuring process. This involved SoftBank, a Japanese tech investment fund, taking an 80% stake in WeWork and saving the company. As part of the deal, SoftBank paid former CEO Adam Neumann $1.7 billion to step down.

Following the acquisition, WeWork implemented cost-cutting measures to address its financial challenges. These measures included layoffs and the phasing out of perks such as free beer. The company aimed to establish a new normal post-Neumann, focusing on sustainable growth and profitability.

The acquisition and restructuring were crucial in stabilizing WeWork and allowing it to move forward with a revised business strategy. However, the company still faced post-acquisition challenges and the need to rebuild trust with investors and stakeholders.

Other Similar Business Failures

Netscape, a computer services company, failed to revive its popularity after being acquired by AOL and was ultimately shut down in 2008. This serves as an example of a similar business failure to WeWork. Revival strategies were unable to save Netscape, and the impact on employees was significant as they lost their jobs.

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To further illustrate the point, here is a comparison table highlighting the failures of other businesses:

Company Failure Reason Impact on Employees Revival Strategies
Netscape Failure to revive popularity after acquisition by AOL Loss of jobs Unsuccessful
Musical.ly Absorbed into TikTok after acquisition by ByteDance Integration into new company Successful
Vine Discontinued by Twitter due to lack of growth and revenue Loss of jobs N/A
CNN Plus Shut down due to funding issues and lack of compelling content Loss of jobs N/A

These examples show that while some businesses can be absorbed or integrated into other successful ventures, others may face insurmountable challenges and result in job losses for employees. Revival strategies need to be carefully evaluated and implemented to ensure success.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Did Adam Neumann's Leadership Style Impact the Culture at Wework?

Adam Neumann's leadership style at WeWork had a significant impact on the company's culture. His unconventional approach, characterized by long hours, extravagant perks, and allegations of toxic behavior, created a work environment resembling a cult-like atmosphere.

What Were Some of the Extravagant Perks and Parties That Wework Employees Enjoyed?

Some of the extravagant perks and parties that WeWork employees enjoyed included lavish company events, access to exclusive networking opportunities, free gourmet meals, and unique amenities like on-site yoga classes and game rooms. These perks were intended to enhance employee satisfaction and create a vibrant work environment.

What Specific Allegations Were Made Against Adam Neumann by Former Employees?

Former employees of WeWork made various allegations against Adam Neumann, including misconduct and creating a toxic work environment. They described him as a charismatic and visionary leader, but his behavior was often seen as toxic and resembling that of a cult leader.

How Did Wework's Business Model Rely on Landlords and the Tech Start-Up Industry?

WeWork's business model relied on strategic partnerships with landlords and the tech industry. By leasing office buildings and transforming them into shared workspaces, WeWork charged higher fees than their lease payments, creating a vulnerable dependence on these key stakeholders.

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What Were Some of the Key Factors That Led to the Failure of Wework's Ipo?

The failure of WeWork's IPO can be attributed to a combination of factors, including Adam Neumann's unconventional leadership style and the dramatic tone of the IPO documents, which raised concerns among investors and led to a significant devaluation of the company.


In conclusion, WeWork's rise and subsequent downfall can be attributed to a combination of factors. One factor is its toxic company culture, which fostered a high-pressure and competitive environment that ultimately led to employee dissatisfaction and burnout. Another factor is its unsustainable business model, which relied heavily on long-term lease agreements with landlords while offering short-term flexible memberships to its customers. This created a cash flow mismatch and made it difficult for WeWork to cover its expenses.

Additionally, WeWork's failed IPO was a major blow to the company. The IPO prospectus revealed significant financial losses and raised concerns about the company's ability to turn a profit. This lack of investor confidence led to a decline in valuation and a loss of credibility for WeWork.

To salvage the company, WeWork underwent significant acquisition and restructuring measures. SoftBank Group, a major investor in WeWork, took over control of the company and implemented cost-cutting measures, including laying off thousands of employees. These measures aimed to reduce expenses and improve the company's financial position.

However, the challenges faced by WeWork are indicative of the broader difficulties encountered by companies in the commercial real estate industry. The industry is highly competitive, and the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the challenges by causing a decline in demand for office spaces.

One interesting statistic to highlight is that WeWork's valuation dropped from $47 billion in 2019 to $2.9 billion in 2020. This significant decline showcases the impact of WeWork's troubles on its overall value and market perception.

Overall, WeWork's rise and fall serve as a cautionary tale for companies in the commercial real estate industry. It highlights the importance of sustainable business models, positive company culture, and adaptability in the face of changing market conditions.

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