WeWork’s Proposed IPO: The Latest Unicorn Doesn’t Disappoint…
Around here, we’ve come to expect big things from unicorn IPO filings – and I’m delighted to say that ’The We Company’’s Form S-1 does not disappoint. I’ll let others comment on the company’s decision to use an Up-C structure, its financial performance & its corporate governance. I’m just going to let the document speak for itself. I’m sure the lawyers involved spent lots of time toning this thing down from what the business folks wanted – but in the end, “unicorns gonna unicorn.” Here’s the paragraph that leads off the “Prospectus Summary”:
We are a community company committed to maximum global impact. Our mission is to elevate the world’s consciousness. We have built a worldwide platform that supports growth, shared experiences and true success. We provide our members with flexible access to beautiful spaces, a culture of inclusivity and the energy of an inspired community, all connected by our extensive technology infrastructure. We believe our company has the power to elevate how people work, live and grow.
My oldest son works for a startup in Chicago that’s housed in a WeWork space, but I haven’t seen any evidence of elevated consciousness in him. I don’t think they have free beer – or as page 145 of the prospectus refers to it, “Craft on Draft” – in the Chicago locations anymore, so maybe that’s what’s missing. Anyway, the company’s mission statement may sound goofy to a middle-aged guy like me, but management wants everybody to know they’re serious – so they put it in the “Risk Factors” section:
We may make decisions consistent with our mission that may reduce our short- or medium-term operating results.
Our mission is integral to everything we do, and many of our strategic and investment decisions are geared toward improving the experience of our members and the attractiveness of our community. While we believe that pursuing these goals will produce benefits to our business in the long-term, these decisions may adversely impact our short- or medium-term operating results and the long-term benefits that we expect to result from these initiatives may not materialize within the timeframe we expect or at all, which could harm our business and financial results.
Given how much media attention has been devoted to this offering, it’s no surprise that there’s also a gun-jumping risk factor on page 49. Apparently, it relates to comments that CEO Adam Neumann & CFO Artie Minson made to Axios & Business Insider back in May. Hey, if you’ve got a mission to raise the world’s consciousness, you’re sort of obligated to preach your evangel whenever the opportunity presents itself, right?
-John Jenkis, TheCorporateCounsel.net August 16, 2019
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