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WeWork's Valuation Could Balloon To $40B Behind More SoftBank Cash

WeWork could soon become the second-most-valuable venture-backed company in the world.

SoftBank, the Japan-based fund that invested more than $4B in WeWork last year to bring the shared-space firm's valuation to just north of $20B, is in discussions for another infusion of capital at a valuation of between $35B and $40B, the Wall Street Journal reports.

WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann
WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann

SoftBank, founded by Masayoshi Son, has invested in WeWork through its $100B Vision Fund. The fund's chief executive, Rajeev Misra, said at a conference in London Wednesday that WeWork was seeking to raise more money at a $35B valuation, Business Insider reports

The additional fundraising will turn even more heads in both the real estate and technology industry, as WeWork has consistently done since its founding in 2010. The New York-based company was once defined only by its coworking spaces, but last year the company diversified intensively, launching a fitness club, an elementary school, a coding academy, buying companies that aligned with its mission — most notably Meetup — and spending more than $1B to acquire property in Manhattan and London.

While its growth has come at a breakneck speed and its design aesthetic has changed the way landlords outfit buildings, WeWork is also piling up expenses and debt at a high rate. WeWork sold $702M in bonds in April, and financial documents reviewed by the WSJ revealed the company expected to spend $1.9B on losses this year.

Concerns regarding the coworking giant's high valuation ahead of its anticipated initial public offering in 2019 are also brewing. An academic study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research determined the startup is 18% overvalued. When comparing WeWork's current $20B valuation to that of publicly traded competitors with larger footprints, like U.K.-based shared office pioneer IWG, which has 3,000 locations compared to WeWork's 270 (as of 2017), there is considerable contrast. While IWG is valued at $4.1B, or seven times its earnings, WeWork's valuation puts it at about 20 times its earnings. The Wall Street Journal writes this rapid growth has been fueled by "Silicon Valley pixie dust."