A WeWork office in London in 2017. Photo: Bloomberg

Can WeWork Make Money? Marketing Costs Are One Obstacle

Photo: A WeWork office in London in 2017. Photo: Bloomberg

As WeWork’s losses have climbed, potential investors have scoured for signs that the company has a pathway to profitability. A key piece of that puzzle: Can WeWork reduce how much it spends to open each new office location? 

The company has tried to highlight signs that it is making progress on that front. “Net capex per workstation added,” a metric mentioned 19 times in WeWork’s recent IPO filing, have been decreasing. In other words, WeWork is spending less to build out each desk space.

But some red flags tied to launching new locations go unstated. According to an analysis of the filing by The Information, WeWork has significantly increased how much it spends to lease and market the company’s workstations, which now number more than 600,000. At the same time, revenue per member has been declining. The combination of these two factors would make it more difficult for WeWork to generate positive cash flow in each location, potentially threatening the sky-high valuation the company is likely to seek when it goes public as soon as later this month. 

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