December 10, 2023

Marking a sort of rock bottom in its years-long fall from grace, WeWork has filed for bankruptcy.

The beleaguered coworking startup sought protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code yesterday (Nov. 6), less than a week after the Wall Street Journal warned it would. WeWork plans to do the equivalent in Canada, but the rest of its franchisees around the world are unaffected.

The once-buzzy company—formerly investor SoftBank’s most valuable asset, worth $47 billion at its peak in 2019—has started “a comprehensive reorganization to strengthen its capital structure and financial performance,” it said in a statement. Meanwhile, its work spaces remain open.

“Now is the time for us to pull the future forward by aggressively addressing our legacy leases and dramatically improving our balance sheet,” CEO David Tolley said in the announcement.

As part of those efforts, the 13-year-old company is “requesting the ability to reject the leases of certain locations, which are largely non-operational,” it said, adding that affected members have been notified.

Charted: We Work’s stock is at an all-time low

A brief timeline of WeWork’s tumble

January 2019: WeWork starts the year on a high, valued at $47 billion.

August 2019: The company files for an IPO. Financial statements reveal that it lost almost $700 million in the first half of 2019 while doubling its revenue.

September 2019: Despite concerns and backlash, WeWork marches ahead with its plan to list on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. To appease investors, it curbs the voting power of then-CEO Adam Neumann before ousting him altogether. The company then withdraws its IPO as its potential valuation drops to as low as $10 billion.

November 2019: WeWork lays off about 2,400 employees worldwide.

February 2020: Sandeep Mathrani is appointed CEO.

October 2021: WeWork goes public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), via a merger with blank-check firm BowX Acquisition Corp.

November 2022: WeWork announces that it’s exiting about 40 underperforming US locations—some 5% of its desk space.

January 2023: The company trims its global workforce by another 300.

March 2023: WeWork strikes deals to cut debt by about $1.5 billion and extend the date of some debt maturities from 2025 to 2027, in a bid to preserve cash.

April 2023: The company receives a non-compliance notice from the NYSE after its stock closes below $1 on average over 30 straight days of trading.

May 2023: Mathrani steps down, shaking investor confidence. Another top exec, CFO Andre Fernandez, resigns less than a week after Mathrani’s exit.

August 2023: WeWork warns there’s “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business, thanks to mounting financial losses and a lack of cash.

September 2023: The company completes a one-for-40 reverse stock split to regain compliance with the NYSE’s listing requirements. It also starts renegotiating leases globally.

October 2023: WeWork admits to skipping $95 million in interest payments. David Tolley, interim CEO for five months, is named CEO. Separately, president and COO Anthony Yazbeck steps down from both roles.

Quotable: Will WeWork make a comeback?

“As the co-founder of WeWork who spent a decade building the business with an amazing team of mission-driven people, the company’s anticipated bankruptcy filing is disappointing. It has been challenging for me to watch from the sidelines since 2019 as WeWork has failed to take advantage of a product that is more relevant today than ever before. I believe that, with the right strategy and team, a reorganization will enable WeWork to emerge successfully.”

WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, who has moved on to his next venture, real estate startup Flow

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