WeWork is willing to cut its IPO valuation to a little above $15 billion, a third of its last private valuation of $47 billion, a person familiar with the deal said Friday. At the same time, the company’s parent, We Co., made sweeping changes to its corporate governance to win over wary investors.
The person disputed reports on Reuters and CNBC that the IPO valuation could be as low as $10 billion to $12 billion, saying it would be at the low end of a range of $15 billion to $20 billion. Either way, this is the latest cut to WeWork’s valuation since planning for the IPO began, a response to investor concerns about the company’s heavy losses and the outsized influence exercised by CEO and founder Adam Neumann.
Meanwhile, Neumann’s control is loosening. WeWork’s parent, the We Company, unveiled a host of changes to its corporate governance in an updated IPO securities filing on Friday. Among other things, Neumann’s supervoting shares will be diluted to 10 votes per share from 20 votes. Neumann’s wife, Rebekah, who serves as WeWork’s chief brand and impact officer, will no longer be spearheading the effort to handpick Neumann’s successor if he were to die. That decision now rests with the board, which will not have any members of Neumann’s family sitting on it.
WeWork has received a chilly reception from Wall Street in the weeks since its IPO filing became public. Nevertheless, the company appears intent to continue the IPO process. Some reports suggested the roadshow to market to offering investors will start next week although a person familiar with the situation said that was not yet certain.
In a development that could be considered good news for the IPO, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday afternoon that SoftBank would buy $750 million of the shares in the offering. SoftBank is already WeWork’s biggest investor and the purchase, if it were to happen, would mean the Japanese conglomerate would own 25% of the shares in the IPO, the paper reported.