WeWork: Unicorn Cowboy

Planet Money
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

He's speaking here in January of last year at a conference of mayors at the time we work was worth more than twenty billion dollars an extraordinary amount of money for an eight year old company that had never made a profit and was in the business of renting out office space by the month but newman never really talked about. We work as a company that rented out office space. Here's I would he told the mayor's if you bring us in for ten locations we will create one hundred thousand jobs over the next ten years and it can go go bigger and bigger and we wanted just bring your jobs. We'll bring the place to live. We'll bring education and this is important will bring corporate America we will redesign their space build it deployer technology which is called we always and took okay longtime to create and then put our community where you do that for a city hall. I would love to see the whole this is the way newman talked about. We work and we work talked about itself not as a company that rented out office space but as something much bigger we kept opening more offices and more cities and kept losing money and investors kept giving the company more money at higher and higher valuations by the beginning of this year we work was worth almost fifty billion dollars because it wasn't just an office company it. It was a technology company that was going to figure out how to profit from offices and apartments schools in City Hall and basically everything we were like. We're going to be a universal. They don't know what the word is. Universal Place Company Matt Levine used to be an investment banker now he writes for Bloomberg opinion my favorite of his recent headlines it's not you. It's it's we anywhere. There is a place we were going to be taking money out of it. That's why they could raise money at forty seven billion dollars evaluation. They weren't like an office landlord company. They were this flakes everywhere all encompassing master of space at least that was the story we were told up until this summer until to put up finer point on it just after seven. Am Eastern time on August fourteenth we work was preparing to sell stock to the public for the first time they have an IPO and they published a document for prospective active investors. The document is called S. One Thursday really quite extraordinary turning point like everything was one way and then the as one hits and immediately everything is the opposite way in like shockingly rapid fashion that whole story that we were had used for years to raise more than ten billion million dollars from some of the richest most experienced tack investors in the world The story that made it the most highly valued startup in America back collapsed instantly instantly. How did we work raise so much money? How did it go so bad so quickly? What tell us about the way money works in the world today hello and welcome to plant money? I'm Jacob Goldstein. The story of we were long rise and almost instant fall largely goes back to one guy not Adam Newman not even anybody at we were. It's a guy named Masayoshi sun today on the show. We Work Masayoshi Sun.

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