Just two years after it went public, the once high-flying real estate business WeWork filed for bankruptcy without ever having figured out how to make flexible workspaces into a profitable enterprise.
It caps a wild ride for a company that began with the idea of re-imagining staid offices as fun places to hang out and grew to a behemoth worth $47 billion at its peak. A botched 2019 initial public offering and erratic behavior by co-founder Adam Neumann started WeWork’s downfall, but the company was also battered by forces outside its control — COVID-19 lockdowns and a slow return to offices that undermined demand.
The company listed $19 billion of liabilities and $15 billion of assets in its Chapter 11 filing in New Jersey on Monday. The petition allows WeWork to continue operating as it works to shore up finances. The company said it reached a restructuring deal with longtime backer SoftBank Group and existing creditors to slash over $3 billion of debt. Most shareholders will be wiped out. It never turned a profit as a public company, reporting net losses that totaled $3 billion.
Bankruptcy will also, critically, allow WeWork to cancel or renegotiate unprofitable leases at more than