After hemorrhaging cash for years, WeWork is now facing a possible delisting by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
The company announced this week that it had received a “continued listing standard notice” from the exchange, stating that, since April 11, 2023, it had fallen out of compliance, which could potentially lead to a permanent halt in the trading of its stock.
The delisting isn’t imminent, as the company has six months to regain compliance, the notice stated. And WeWork indicated that it intends to consider “a number of available alternatives” to correct the issue.
It’s WeWork’s stock price that has caused the problems. Shares haven’t closed over $1 since March 21—and only once since March 9. If WeWork can get the stock to a point where it finishes above that level on the last trading day of any calendar month during the six-month window (or by the end of those six months), it’ll be safe. If not, WeWork will no longer be a public company.
Shares closed up nearly 4% Thursday to $0.48 a share, but are down more than 65% year to date.
Founded in 2010, WeWork was one of the original coworking companies and, at one time, had a valuation of $47 billion. However, WeWork’s 2019 IPO prospectus revealed a company barreling toward a financial crisis, with $900 million in losses in the first half of 2019, $47 billion in lease obligations, and expenses so high that it lost $1 for every dollar it made.
The real rancor, however, was reserved for ex-CEO Adam Neumann and his erratic management style and overambitious growth strategy.
Neumann had partial ownership of several buildings WeWorked leased. He charged the company to license the “We” family of trademarks when it rebranded. And he had WeWork buy him a $60 million private jet. (The jet was returned, and Neumann paid back the $5.9 million the company paid to use “We” trademarks.)
Prospective investors were also aghast that the corporate governance included language granting Neumann’s wife the ability to name his successor if something happened to him. (An officer at the company, Rebekah Paltrow Neumann left the company shortly after her husband was removed in 2019 and before being ousted herself.) The $480 million golden parachute he ultimately received when he finally walked away from the company didn’t quell that criticism, either.
Neumann hasn’t disappeared, either. Last year, he raised $350 million for Flow, his attempt to transform the residential-rental real estate market, which set the company’s valuation at $1 billion before it opened its doors.
WeWork finally went public under new ownership, via a SPAC, in 2021. It has peaked as high as $13 per share (in October of that year), and held strong during the pandemic as people looked for office alternatives, but has been on a downward trajectory for some time. Last month, the company made deals that cut its debt by about $1.5 billion and extended its cash flow, but investors have still been trepidatious.
Last November, WeWork announced plans to close 40 “underperforming” locations in the U.S., which would do away with 41,000 work stations. At the time, the company did not disclose where those were located, however. In January of this year, it eliminated 300 jobs globally.
It’s a far cry from what used to be one of the most highly valued private companies in history.
As of market close Thursday, WeWork was valued at $352 million, less than 1% of its once sky-high $47 billion valuation.
Clarification, April 25, 2023: This article has been updated with a clarification around the scope of Adam Neumann’s real estate ownership and trademarks.