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Second Act

Posted October 21, 2021 at 10:00 am

What’s going on?

WeWork announced earlier in the week that it’s finally hitting the stock market on Thursday, and the coworking giant is hoping its critics give it a kinder reception this time around.

What does this mean?

2019 was a simpler time – a time when WeWork, rather than a pandemic, was stealing all the headlines. The company, after all, went from planning its initial public offering at an eye-watering $47 billion valuation to a spectacular flameout after investors got nervous that it might never turn a profit. But what a difference two years makes: WeWork’s dream is finally about to become reality, albeit this time via a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). In other words, it’s set to merge with a listed shell company that’ll fast-track its arrival onto the stock market. Nowhere near the same sort of money’s involved, mind you: the deal’s worth a relatively paltry $9 billion.

Why should I care?

The bigger picture: Is WeWork a good buy?

SoftBank has been trying to put investors’ minds at ease ever since it bought a controlling stake in WeWork in 2019 – from bringing in a new CEO to cutting the company’s dizzying costs. And while lockdowns have hurt WeWork in the last 18 months, the Japanese conglomerate is confident that demand for flexible workspaces will thrive in a world where people crave a more hybrid lifestyle. Let’s hope so: WeWork has notched up losses of $3 billion in the first half of this year, and it’s behind on its revenue target too.

Zooming out: The robots have arrived.

WeWork isn’t the only SoftBank-backed company going public this week: warehouse automation company AutoStore listed on the stock market on Wednesday, and investors initially sent its shares up by 11%. No surprises there: the Norwegian firm saw revenue surge 88% in the first six months of 2021 compared to the same time last year, as firms piled money into their booming ecommerce segments.

Originally Posted on October 20, 2021 – Second Act

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