The WeWork fiasco of 2019, explained in 30 seconds

WeWork; Jackal Pan/Getty images; Samantha Lee/Business InsiderWeWork cofounder Adam Neumann.
  • WeWork has been in turmoil since it filed its public-offering paperwork in August.
  • In one month, the coworking company cut its valuation down to as low as $US10 billion from $US47 billion, removed Adam Neumann as CEO, and delayed its initial public offering indefinitely.
  • In October, WeWork is being taken over by its biggest investor, Softbank. Softbank is reportedly paying Neumann to step down from his position as chairman of the board at WeWork, and the company’s valuation will drop to $US8 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

What just happened to WeWork?

Attempting to go public this fall stirred up a lot of drama – in finances and leadership – for the nine-year-old coworking company.


Here’s a 30-second explanation of what’s going on:

WeWorkA common area in the Dalian Lu WeWork in Shanghai.

WeWork publicly filed its IPO paperwork on August 14.

After the filing, WeWork faced intense scrutiny of its finances and leadership from investors and the media. There were concerns about WeWork’s path to profitability and its leader, CEO and cofounder Adam Neumann. Ultimately, WeWork delayed its IPO on September 16.

After the delay, attention shifted to Neumann’s inappropriate antics, Neumann stepped down from his role as CEO on September 24.

SoftBank, WeWork’s biggest investor, is taking control of the company on October 22. SoftBank is reportedly giving Neumann $US1.7 billion to step down from his position as chairman of the board at WeWork.


Here are some more details you might want to know:

WeWork; Eduardo Munoz/REUTERS; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

“The We Company” was described in its IPO filing as an umbrella with three major arms: WeWork,WeLive, and WeGrow.

The antics that led to Neumann stepping down from his CEO role included reports of him smoking weed on a private jet, serving employees tequila shots after discussing layoffs, and trademarking the term “We” and then forcing WeWork to buy it for $US5.9 million.

His successors, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, have stepped into the role of co-CEOs of WeWork as it attempts to navigate its future.

With SoftBank’s takeover, WeWork’s valuation is expected to drop to $US8 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.


Now, here’s a 5-minute timeline of events, via our past coverage.

Michael Kovac/Getty Images

October 22


WSJ: SoftBank, WeWork’s largest investor, takes control of the embattled office company, with co-founder Adam Neumann stepping down

Adam Neumann is expected to step down from WeWork’s board of directors – here’s who is still leading the office-sharing company

SoftBank is reportedly paying WeWork founder Adam Neumann $US1.7 billion to step off the board

‘The power of revelation’: Adam Neumann and Elon Musk show how startup founders use the same tactics as cult leaders – and why it eventually backfires


October 21

WeWork’s board talked to more than 75 financing sources in a week, the new CEOs told employees in a leaked email

WeWork is set to evaluate rescue proposals from SoftBank and JPMorgan on Tuesday

WeWork CEOs tell staff layoffs are coming in leaked email ahead of decision on rescue package

SoftBank is planning on paying Adam Neumann $US200 million to step aside if it takes over WeWork

In leaked email, WeWork cofounder Miguel McKelvey tells employees ‘it takes fortitude to continue to believe’

WeWork has reportedly postponed thousands of layoffs because it’s too broke to pay workers severance


October 20

New WeWork financials show growing debt in its international unit


October 18

Leaked video reveals Adam Neumann told staff earlier this year that his family had 100% control of WeWork and that even in 300 years his descendants would be in control

WeWork’s valuation could reportedly slip below $US8 billion as part of SoftBank’s proposed bailout of the embattled company


October 16

SoftBank reportedly plans to offer $US5 billion in financing to WeWork without majority control, offering an alternative to JPMorgan’s high-interest option

SoftBank reportedly hired restructuring and bankruptcy bankers to help revive WeWork

WeWork says it has 527,000 ‘memberships,’ but that’s not as straightforward as it seems

Leaked messages show WeWork employees internally discussing the toxic phone booth problem in July – and a pregnant tenant is furious

The Kabbalah Connection: Insiders say a celebrity-centered religious sect deeply influenced how Adam Neumann ran WeWork before its spectacular collapse


October 15


WeWork is reportedly cutting 2,000 jobs as soon as this week, with the staff turning against Adam Neumann

Goldman Sachs says it absorbed an $US80 million write-down after WeWork’s IPO disaster

Goldman Sachs unloaded some of its WeWork shares before its investment bankers pitched investors on what it once considered a $US60 billion-plus IPO

WeWork used massive discounts – in some cases, essentially giving away space for 2 years – to try to poach customers from rivals

WeWork is reportedly favouring JPMorgan over SoftBank to bail out the buckling real-estate firm

Investors are more worried than ever that WeWork won’t be able to pay down its debt

Startups like Glossier and Rent the Runway love throwing Instagrammable ‘summer camps’ for employees – but WeWork’s version has become a cautionary tale


October 14


WeWork says thousands of its phone booths could have dangerous levels of formaldehyde after people complained about odor and eye irritation

SCOOP: Leaked emails reveal WeWork was warned about potentially dangerous phone booths tainted with formaldehyde as early as August

16 wild details that reveal the lavish life of WeWork founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann

The commercial real estate tech industry is gathering at a huge WeWork-anchored building in New York. Here’s what everyone will be talking about.

JPMorgan has a complex relationship with WeWork. Here’s a sneak peak at what Wall Street analysts will be asking when it reports earnings.


October 13


WeWork says thousands of its phone booths could have dangerous levels of formaldehyde after people complained about odor and eye irritation

SCOOP: Leaked emails reveal WeWork was warned about potentially dangerous phone booths tainted with formaldehyde as early as August

16 wild details that reveal the lavish life of WeWork founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann

The commercial real estate tech industry is gathering at a huge WeWork-anchored building in New York. Here’s what everyone will be talking about.

JPMorgan has a complex relationship with WeWork. Here’s a sneak peak at what Wall Street analysts will be asking when it reports earnings.


October 12

The WeWork fiasco is making employees wonder if their shares have been set on fire. We talked to experts who said most tech startup workers are in the dark about how much their equity is worth.


October 11


WeWork is now is said to be talking to JPMorgan about a $US5 billion credit line and could run out of cash next month without it


WeWork’s school is closing at the end of the academic year as the company ditches passion projects to stem its huge losses


Inside WeWork’s troubled $US850 million Lord & Taylor building: A tale of outsize ambition, audacious renovations, and now financial worries

WeWork is reportedly rushing to get a new debt-financing deal and could run out of cash next month

Cash-strapped WeWork pulled more than $US60 million from its UK unit and almost tripled the division’s debt last year


October 10

WeWork’s India business is trying to raise $US200 million after prior funding was pulled following the firm’s botched IPO

Forbes just revoked Adam Neumann’s billionaire status and lowered its estimate of his personal net worth to $US600 million – which means his purported net worth has plummeted by $US3.5 billion in just 7 months


October 9

Goldman Sachs is setting up a WeWork office in London as an emergency trading floor

Amid a company meltdown and employee revolt, WeWork is sponsoring LinkedIn ads offering to help address ‘lagging team morale’

We’re starting to get a sense of the damage WeWork has wrought on Wall Street, and it could cost Goldman Sachs $US264 million


October 8

WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann personally invested $US30 million in a startup and loaned money to its CEO. Then the CEO got fired for alleged gross misconduct.

WeWork is reportedly seeking a $US4 billion lifeline from SoftBank and JPMorgan


October 7

WeWork is hitting the brakes after its IPO went up in smoke – and landlords could pay the price


October 5

Here’s everything we know about WeWork exec exits, huge layoffs, and more as the co-working giant looks to right itself after a failed IPO


October 4

Wall Street gave Adam Neumann up to $US500 million he was going to pay back after WeWork’s IPO. Now that the offering is pulled, banks are scrambling to hammer out a solution.


October 3


WeWork is planning to lay off thousands – up to 25% of its employees – as its new CEOs focus on the core business

A New York real estate group sounded the alarm on WeWork years before it plunged into chaos

Traders are piling in to short WeWork’s ‘house of cards’ junk bonds – and the cost of the bets are some of the of the priciest on record


October 2

WeWork is on pace to run out of money by mid-2020, Bernstein says


October 1

WeWork is reportedly considering selling its stake in women’s coworking space The Wing

After WeWork banned employees from expensing meat, Adam Neumann was spotted eating a giant lamb shank at a company dinner

WeWork’s Rebekah Neumann insists that all technology she uses is white-coloured, and her assistants once had to break apart her phone, spray paint all the pieces, and put it back together for her

WeWork is planning to sell off 2 more tech companies


September 30

WeWork shelves IPO for now under new leadership

WeWork’s bonds plummet to record low after company pulls its IPO

Google examined WeWork search results and reportedly found ‘the most alarming negative sentiment trends’ it’s seen for such a company

Some WeWork employees are now worried that they have a ‘black mark’ on their résumés

WeWork opened 400 locations in 3 years. In some cases, it used deep discounts to convince existing customers to relocate to help fill them.

WeWork went from a $US47 billion valuation to a failed IPO. Here’s how the company makes money.


September 29

Adam Neumann gives his first statement on WeWork’s culture and leadership changes since stepping down as CEO and admits ‘growing pains’

Sex, tequila, and a tiger: Employees inside Adam Neumann’s WeWork talk about the nonstop party to attain a $US100 billion dream and the messy reality that tanked it


September 28

How WeWork spiraled from a $US47 billion valuation to talk of bankruptcy in just 6 weeks


September 27

Jefferies slashed the value of its stake in WeWork by $US146 million more than two weeks before its failed IPO


September 26

WeWork’s Adam Neumann voted to oust himself as CEO after failed IPO, sources say


WeWork is reportedly halting all new lease agreements with property owners

WeWork’s new co-CEOs are planning to oust 20 of Adam Neumann’s friends and family members

We just learned about the latest WeWork departures. 2 longtime members of Adam Neumann’s inner circle are out. More key exits are likely coming.

WeWork is selling the company’s $US60 million luxurious private jet that Adam Neumann and his family personalised and used to fly all over the world

WeWork is reportedly in talks with SoftBank about a $US1 billion lifeline


September 25

WeWork was criticised by some of its tenants in a letter to leadership after 5 cleaning contractors were fired

WeWork is reportedly unlikely to go public this year – and thousands of layoffs could be coming

WeWork’s new CEOs want to sell off 3 of its businesses as the company looks to cut costs


September 24


Adam Neumann gives up most of his voting power and steps down as WeWork’s CEO, saying intense public scrutiny of him was a ‘distraction.’ 2 execs will permanently replace him.

WeWork will replace Adam Neumann with two new CEOs. Here’s everything we know about Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson.

Adam Neumann tells staff that the spotlight on WeWork provides an ‘opportunity to expand our global business to more people than ever before’

Cofounder Rebekah Neumann is giving up her roles at WeWork as her husband steps down as CEO


September 22 and 23


WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has started talks about his future role at the company, including the possibility of giving up the CEO title

The New York Stock Exchange appeared to troll WeWork on Twitter

WeWork’s board reportedly meets Monday to discuss pushing out Adam Neumann – and his alleged ‘self-dealing’ and marijuana use may come into play

WeWork board members are talking about ousting CEO Adam Neumann amid IPO turmoil


September 20

WeWork just lost another executive as the chief investment officer of its real-estate fund resigns

Billionaire Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison calls embattled WeWork ‘almost worthless’

A former WeWork executive who made $US300,000 and is now suing describes strange cultlike culture, including endless flows of alcohol at mandatory sleepover camp for employees and the CEO’s children on his lap during an all-hands meeting

A WeWork tenant found its weak WiFi security exposed bank details, driving licenses, and a virtual birthday card featuring Nicholas Cage as a cat


September 19

WeWork cofounders Adam and Rebekah Neumann are close friends with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and invited them to Rebekah’s extravagant 40th birthday bash in Italy


September 18


WeWork CEO Adam Neumann reportedly smoked weed with friends on a private jet to Israel – and the flight crew later found a ‘sizable chunk’ in a cereal box and recalled the plane

Former Twitter CEO calls out WeWork CEO Adam Neumann amid the company’s IPO fiasco: ‘This is not the way everybody behaves’

WeWork cofounder Rebekah Neumann, cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow, reportedly demanded employees be fired within minutes of meeting them because she disliked their ‘energy’

WeWork founder Adam Neumann joked about changing the United States Constitution so he could run for president

WeWork’s collapsed IPO has reportedly tanked a $US112 million London property deal

WeWork CEO Adam Neumann told employees he’s ‘humbled’ by the collapse of the firm’s IPO


September 17


WeWork will reportedly shelve its IPO in a ‘last-minute decision’ after weak investor interest


September 16

WeWork is reportedly leaning toward delaying its IPO


WeWork’s top communications executives are jumping ship as the company struggles to go public

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned against opening private companies to everyday investors – if ordinary people had invested in WeWork at a $US47 billion valuation, they’d be ‘getting fleeced’


September 13


WeWork is now considering an IPO valuation as low as $US10 billion, down from $US47 billion

SoftBank reportedly plans to boost its stake in WeWork by $US750 million in the coworking giant’s IPO

WeWork just announced a Nasdaq listing and fresh limits on CEO Adam Neumann


September 12

WeWork is debating whether to take power from Adam and Rebekah Neumann, its husband-and-wife cofounders, to get its IPO back on track


September 11

WeWork is reportedly considering big governance changes in order to rescue its flailing IPO


September 10

WeWork may soldier on with its IPO despite reports that it’s slashing its valuation by more than half

WeWork is reportedly planning to tap investors via the risky junk-bond market again as its IPO stumbles


September 9

WeWork reportedly might slash its valuation below $US20 billion, or even postpone its IPO

WeWork’s biggest outside shareholder, SoftBank, is reportedly asking for the IPO to be put on hold because investors don’t seem interested


September 6

WeWork could cut its valuation in half to about $US20 billion after intense scepticism of its business and CEO – and it might delay its IPO


September 4


WeWork paid its own CEO $US5.9 million to use the name ‘We,’ but now he’s giving it back after the deal was criticised

A former Uber executive hired to clean up ousted founder Travis Kalanick’s mess has joined WeWork’s board of directors as it gears up for a massive IPO


August 27


WeWork has reportedly been bleeding HR managers in the last year, and some are pointing fingers at CEO Adam Neumann

WeWork gave out 58 stock awards worth at least $US1 million each in February, and 94% of them went to men, a lawsuit says


August 20

WeWork’s IPO documents baffled an analyst who specialises in evaluating companies preparing to go public


August 15


Morgan Stanley backs out of WeWork’s monster IPO after getting snubbed for the lead role

WeWork boosted its advertising spend by a whopping 164% on its way to one of the most anticipated IPOs of 2019

A buzzy energy startup raised $US30 million from WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, then collapsed the day WeWork filed to go public


August 14


WeWork just filed for its IPO and revealed a lengthy list of risk factors that investors should be aware of

WeWork is going public with an extremely weird, complicated structure

WeWork files for IPO, revealing spiraling losses of $US1.6 billion


‘The energy of we’: People are roasting WeWork for its cultish IPO filing

Adam Neumann has locked up control of The We Company in a jaw-dropping way, even by Silicon Valley standards, by giving himself 20 votes per share


WeWork details CEO Adam Neumann’s web of loans, real-estate deals, and family involvement with the company

WeWork IPO reveals company loaned millions to CEO Adam Neumann and other company execs

WeWork lays out its path to profitability – and most of its options involve slowing its breakneck growth

Adam Neumann’s wife is one of 3 people who would choose WeWork’s next CEO if he dies or is unable to work

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