Investors are always hunting for unicorns – that is, start-up companies valued at $1 billion or more before going public. US commercial real estate company WeWork amassed unicorn-grade hype, but behind the smoke and mirrors it had a flawed business model and an erratic, volatile CEO. In a fascinating story clearly told, documentarian Dagogo Altraide examines WeWork’s precipitous fall from grace, a catastrophe that may forever shift how the market views IPOs.
Since its inception, WeWork has raised $14.2 billion in venture capital.
Founded in 2010, WeWork rents funky, state-of-the-art coworking office space to freelancers, small business owners and even tech giants, offering fledgling and established businesses alike functional premises from which to operate and network. In the milieu of the sharing economy, WeWork’s basic business concept has broad appeal. The company quickly grew to encompass 847 locations in 123 cities worldwide. In both London and Manhattan, WeWork is the largest private renter of commercial office space.
In 2017, Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank, invested $4.4 billion in WeWork after a 12-minute meeting with WeWork CEO Adam Neumann. Son, an investment guru who has previously invested venture capital with the likes of Alibaba, encouraged Neumann to think big. Neumann reorganized WeWork as The We Company and launched WeLive, a service that leases cutting-edge furnished apartments, and WeGrow, an experimental private school with astronomical tuition fees.