WeWork is in many ways the Platonic ideal of a tech startup. A startup backed by billions in venture capital betting that its extreme growth will eventually morph into profitability that caters to other tech startups and continues to burn investor cash is perhaps the perfect poster child for the late-stage business cycle.
As well as being a prominent example of the ‘growth at all cost’ flavour of company that has emerged over the last ten years, WeWork is particularly exposed to the risk that the startup bubble may burst. Although it is an operator of commercial real estate, WeWork does not technically have tenants per se – it has members.
Even though it is part of the tech zeitgeist, WeWork actually operates by a pretty old playbook. The companies hosted by WeWork tend to be tech startups ,although larger firms also sometimes buy memberships to host contractors and other temporary workers. Its planned $16 billion capital injection to WeWork to a paltry $2 billion.