NYU professor calls WeWork ‘WeWTF’ and slams the bankers

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adam neumann wework we company ceoAdam Neumann, CEO of The We Firm.AP Picture/Mark Lennihan

  • Scott Galloway is a professor of promoting at NYU’s Stern Faculty of Enterprise, bestselling writer and well-known tech business pundit.
  • He analyzed WeWork’s S1 submitting because it prepares for an IPO beneath its new title We Firm.
  • He summarized many of the main criticisms which have been lobbed on the firm: its losses, tradition, company construction and disclosures about its enterprise dealings with founder CEO Adam Neumann.
  • However Galloway, in his well-known shoot-from-the-hip model takes it additional: he additionally criticized the bankers concerned on this deal, writing, they “stand to register $122 million in charges flinging feces at retail buyers.”
  • The next is his weblog put up in full republished by permission. It initially ran on his personal weblog “No Mercy / No Malice.”
  • Learn all of BI’s WeWork protection right here.

Actually? Actually?

I’ve began 9 companies and I am, generously, Three-Four-2 (win-lose-tie). Looking back, and I take into consideration this loads, the one dependable forward-looking indicator of our agency’s success or failure was … timing. Particularly, the a part of the financial cycle at founding.

The companies we began in recessions had a neater time discovering expertise, controlling prices, and getting quick suggestions about if this factor labored as purchasers/shoppers held their purse strings closed. Then, armed with a battle-tested worth proposition, because the recession ended, we loved the afterburner of confidence to spend extra and check out new issues. #disco.

In frothy markets, it is easy to enter right into a consensual hallucination, with buyers and markets, that you just’re creating worth. And it is easy to wallpaper over the shortcomings of the enterprise with a bull market’s halcyon: low cost capital. WeWork has introduced new which means to the phrase wallpaper.

Learn: How WeWork paid Adam Neumann $5.9 million to make use of the title ‘We’

That is extra harking back to a budget marbled paneling you’d discover in Mike Brady’s dwelling workplace — paneling whose mucilaginous coating will dissipate on the first whiff of a recession, revealing a household of raccoons or the mummified corpses of drug mules.

The options of seventies sitcom paneling:


WeWork’s prospectus has a dedication (no joke): “We dedicate this to the facility of We — better than any considered one of us, however inside every of us.” Fairly positive Jim Jones had t-shirts printed up with this inspiring missive.

Talking of idolatry, “Adam” (as in Neumann) is talked about 169 occasions, vs. a mean of 25 mentions for founder/CEOs in different unicorn prospectuses.

Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is talked about 29 occasions of their prospectus. Granted, “Adam” is tremendous dreamy, in form of an Argentinian polo participant manner (he is Israeli). However he is not 6x dreamier than Dara, who has an entire “Omar Sharif, if he went to Brown” factor happening. However I digress. We’s mission is “to raise the world’s consciousness.” Perhaps, however it’s clear the mission of the prospectus is to dampen our consciousness forward of the sh*tshow that’s “The Story of Us: We.”

Mentions of Founders CEOMentions of Founders CEOScott Galloway


Discover the most well liked sector, and if you do not have the perception, IP, genius, capital, code, expertise, human capital, or a clue, then simply borrow the phrases. SaaS companies commerce at a a number of of revenues (yay), vs. actual property companies, which commerce at a a number of of EBITDA (boo). So, We is not an actual property agency renting desks, it is a Area as a Service (SAAS) agency. I do know, use the phrase “expertise” again and again, regardless of having little R&D and computer systems and stuff, and voilà … we’re Salesforce.

Right this moment I froze water and used this expertise to reconfigure the atmosphere encapsulating my Zacapa and Coke. So, I am Invoice Gates. Higher but, in the present day I started calling my spouse Gisele, which I am fairly positive means I am the beginning QB for the Pats.

At WeWTF, you are not a visitor, however a member. Member has a extra “recurring income” sound to it. So, I plan to be a member tomorrow evening on the Marriott in Boston, the place I’ll then get membership to the TD Middle so I can watch a 21-year-old Canadian (Shawn Mendes) with my Eight-year-old son — additionally a member of the Marriott and TD Middle, for tomorrow at the least.

Invented Metrics

GAAP accounting requirements acquired you down? No problema at WeWTF. We has begun reporting “Group-based EBITDA,” profitability earlier than the BITDA, however can be taking out bills, together with real-estate, that comprise the majority of value required to ship the service. A extra sincere description of the metric could be “EBEE, Earnings Earlier than Every thing Else.”

As somebody who follows shares and goes on TV to fake I’ve any concept which course a given inventory goes, I would wish to recommend a number of metrics to supply perception into We:

EBG, Earnings Earlier than Gluten
EBBG, Earnings Earlier than the Large Dawg (tennis balls, pig’s ears, and so on.)
EBEPW, Earnings Earlier than Equal Pay for Ladies

Pink Flags

My goddaughter knowledgeable me she’s courting a membership promoter, a purple flag. Often, purple flags marry one another, the Biebs and Hailey Baldwin — what may go improper? So now, think about purple flags the scale of Kansas. Buckle up:

— Adam Neumann has bought $700 million in inventory. As a founder, I’ve bought shares right into a secondary providing to get some liquidity and diversify holdings. Okay, I get it. However Three/Four of a billion ? That is 700 million purple flags that spell phrases on the sphere of a soccer subject at halftime: “Get me the hell out of this inventory, however YOU can buy some.”

— Gross margins are a fairly first rate proxy for the way good or unhealthy a enterprise is. And it is a sh**ty enterprise:

WeWork Revenue and LossesWeWork Income and LossesScott Galloway, No Mercy/No Malice
— Adam has a number of relations working within the enterprise who make “lower than $200,000.”

— The possession construction chart is just like a hieroglyphic on a cave wall concerning the survival of the species: Harvest the crops when the solar is excessive within the horizon, don’t enterprise over the hills, hostile tribes dwell there, and … do not buy this inventory. The company governance construction of WeWTF makes Chinese language companies look American, pre–huge tech.



— The associated occasion part of this prospectus reads just like the Trump administration. Adam owns 10 buildings, a number of that he leased to WeWTF at a good-looking revenue. Adam additionally owned the rights to the “We” trademark, which the agency determined they have to personal and paid the founder/CEO $5.9 million for the rights. The rights to a reputation almost an identical to the title of the agency the place he is the founder/CEO and largest shareholder.


— Mismatched durations. The founding father of Kohlberg Capital, Jim Kohlberg (whole gangster), taught me funding companies exit of enterprise due to “mismatched durations.” It is about elevating cash quick (clients who can cease shopping for your product service quickly/tomorrow) and investing cash lengthy (10-year leases). WeWTF is an particularly dangerous enterprise going right into a recession, when the power to variabilize prices is restricted, however income decline is limitless.

WeWTF has $47 billion in long-term obligations (leases) and can do $Three billion in income this yr. What may go improper?

There are different companies like this (actual property, Hertz), and they’re good companies. Companies that commerce at, I do not know, zero.5 to 2x revenues. Nevertheless, WeWTF is claiming it is not on this neighborhood, and even the identical planet. So, let’s speak valuation.

Insane. Critically loco. Okay, let’s assume WeWTF is onto one thing, higher than peer IWG or Hertz. However is that this agency, buying and selling at 26x revenues, superior to Amazon, which trades at 4x revenues?

There seems to be no scale results, as losses have stored tempo with income development. There may be little pricing energy, as they’re nonetheless a mole on the elephant of economic actual property. There is no such thing as a defensible IP, no expertise, no regulatory moats, no community results, and no flywheel impact (the ancillary companies are silly, simply silly).

The final spherical $47 billion “valuation” is an phantasm. SoftBank invested at this valuation with a “pref,” which means their cash is the primary cash out, limiting the draw back. The suckers, idiots, CNBC viewers, nice Individuals, and folks attempting to really feel younger once more who purchase on the primary commerce — or after — do not have this draw back safety. Much like the DJIA, last-round non-public valuations are dangerous metrics that create the phantasm of prosperity.

The bankers (JPM and Goldman) stand to register $122 million in charges flinging feces at retail buyers visiting the unicorn zoo. Any fairness analyst who endorses this inventory above a $10 billion valuation is mendacity, silly, or each.

Adam’s spouse is Gwyneth Paltrow’s cousin, which means Adam is 2 levels faraway from Goop, an assault on humanity.

Ms. Neumann created controversy when she went on CNBC and mentioned: “An enormous a part of being a lady is to assist males [like Adam] manifest their calling in life.”

Okay, effective … no matter works for you and Adam. However it’s not retail buyers’ function to assist Adam understand his calling — he ought to really feel fairly manifested with $700 million. The paneling is compelling and funky, however it’s starting to curve and the substance behind the wooden veneer stinks. I imply, stinks.

Scott Galloway is a professor of promoting at NYU’s Stern Faculty of Enterprise and bestselling writer of “The 4” and “The Algebra of Happiness.” He’s a frequent commenter on the tech business and founding father of 9 companies together with  L2, Pink Envelope, and Prophet. This text initially appeared on Scott Galloway’s weblog No Mercy/No Malice. Comply with Galloway on Twitter at @profgalloway. Republished by permission.


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