WeWork’s announcement Monday that it had filed to go public took many employees by surprise. WeWork confidentially submitted the filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission in December, it said, and on Monday updated the document, which it drafted mostly with an internal team and without an investment bank, according to a person familiar with the matter.
But investors already should have a clear view of the company’s financial status, thanks to regular business updates WeWork has provided bondholders in recent years. Like Uber and Lyft, the office space provider will test public investors’ appetite for high-growth, heavy loss-making businesses. In WeWork’s case, the challenge could be even tougher, because it needs to persuade the markets that it should be valued like a tech company, at 10 or more times its revenue, rather than as a much more cost-intensive real estate business.