a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
search: WeWork
comment on: WeWork to Delay IPO Amid Suspicion It Is Not Actually a Tech Company Worth $47 Billion · link
by: kleinbl00 · 1065 days ago

Did I not post this video? I totally shoulda posted this video.

The linked infographic is sumpin' else, too. The article you linked isn't even entirely up-to-date: Adam Fuckhead's founder shares have gone from 50 votes to 20 votes to 10 votes to now maybe 1 vote, Softbank says they'll prop up $750m of the IPO and the money they've sucked down isn't fully accounted by any of the mainstream sources - Adam Fuckhead has used personal loans and bank lines of credit worth $500m to buy $238m worth of real estate that he's leased to WeWork and there's another $1.8b in non-convertible loans there. The cherry on top is the $3b in convertible bonds - you don't get paid back on those, you end up owning WeWork stock.

Somebody clever on Twitter pointed out that a never-profitable company perpetually failing to IPO is basically 1999 all over again. What's missing in all this is that WeWork has lease obligations worth $47b out there. If WeWork customers decide that maybe it's cheaper working out of mom's house, WeWork defaults on those leases. IPO or no, WeWork has already punched a $47b hole in the economy that it's hoping it can fill.

For $1560 a month, I can lease a fully furnished 100sqft office at WeWork. For $800 a month I can lease a fully-furnished 150sqft office at eOffices. $420 a month, I can "hot desk" at a WeWork location in Culver City. For $0 a month I can go to fuckin' Starbucks.

    So much has already been written about the company’s finances that this single observation may suffice: If, instead of merely subleasing 14 million feet, WeWork owned 14 million feet of office buildings at a valuation of say $500 a foot, the company would be worth $7 billion or roughly 1/3rd of its self-touted value. And that $7 billion valuation would presuppose owning all of those buildings free and clear of debt.

comment on: “You Don’t Bring Bad News to the Cult Leader”: Inside the Fall of WeWork · link
by: kleinbl00 · 996 days ago

It's more insidious than that. What you describe is Theranos - Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani started a company based on purest bullshit and conned people all along. Those who knew about it were threatened until eventually they couldn't keep things tamped down. It blew up and now we're all waiting for the Jennifer Lawrence Oscarbait. That, we can point to bad actors and gullible investors shined on by a willingness to believe that blood chemistry could be "distrupted".

WeWork is worse - Adam Neumann was a dude throwing ideas at the wall until he discovered that subletting desks to freelancers was lucrative. But you don't go from "subletting desks to freelancers" to "I can solve the Middle East" without a whole bunch of people convincing you beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're a genius. And from what I can tell, they did this not on the assumption that owning WeWork would make them rich, but on the assumption that selling WeWork would make them rich.

Theranos was people thinking they were getting in on the next Apple - the ur-company of healthcare, the place where the revolution would begin. WeWork was people thinking they were getting in on the next Uber - an iterative solution to a known problem that is somehow worth insane amounts of money because people keep piling the phantasm higher. If you look at it, the people at the heart of Theranos knew blood chemistry and knew what they were doing was effectively impossible. Holmes and Balwani kept them all siloed so they could reasonably believe that the problems they saw with their own two eyes were being solved by someone behind this, that or the other Chinese wall. The people at the heart of WeWork had no fucking clue what they were doing but if someone wants to reward you for buying pizzas at $13 and selling them at $12, are you going to let them? For how long? When do you say "stop"? When do you question the people throwing money at you? Jamie Dimon is your personal banker. One of the eight guys called in to bail out the economy in 2008 is the guy approving your mansion purchases. Do you say "Jamie I recognize that you run a financial services company with two point seven trillion dollars in assets but I kinda feel like maybe things are a little out of control and I mean, I oughtta know I tried to sell baby clothes with kneepads"?

To me, this is the venture capital industry looking for things they can sell to each other for no reason other than hype. And they hyped themselves out of $12b. And Gwynneth Paltrow's cousin gets a $500m parachute.

comment on: The Rise of the WeWorking Class · link
by: demure · 1268 days ago

The steady march towards work-is-life, life-in-work concerns me, even as I take part in the problem...

"Job stability" -> "Office drone" -> Office Space

"New wave" -> open office plans, company culture -> Google, IDEO, Silicon Valley

"The hustle" -> gig economy, independent contractors -> Uber, Instacart

"The hustle 2.0" -> company culture but you don't work always work for a company (or that company lacks the former) -> WeWork

    When I met McKelvey a few weeks later at WeWork’s Manhattan headquarters, he made it clear that the long-term plan was not just to make IBM a bit more like Google but something much more grandiose. The company’s CultureOS was about being “supportive to openness and conversation” and the “obligation we create to each other to be good humans to each other — to share a smile and some warmth.” We’ve learned the hard way from social media, he said, that “alignment along ideological lines is a shallow way of creating a human environment.” This, McKelvey said, is what he tells his team: “You’re not building work space. You’re here building a new infrastructure to rebuild social fabric and rebuild up the potential for human connection.” It was, he conceded, a “big leap.” But the company existed to give it a shot. “Who am I going to need in a disaster? The person I took a yoga class with versus the person I’m in the same Facebook group with?” The enterprise product could scale up that social infrastructure to unite millions and millions of people. On a hard-hat tour of WeWork’s new West Coast headquarters, in San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower, Adam Neumann told me: “Assuming we keep up our personal growth as a company, as individuals and as a company, there is no limit. Businesses, neighborhoods, cities — there are new cities being built around the world, and we want the call from those cities.”

Company/work culture as culture culture. Frightening.

comment on: High Yield Train Wreck · link
by: kleinbl00 · 1541 days ago

"One top San Francisco broker put it this way, 'WeWork’s openly been saying for years that if the market tanks, it’ll renegotiate every lease it has.'"

    It may be that WeWork will shiv its landlords only when it becomes truly desperate, but with $18 billion in short and medium-term debt and losses running nearly a billion a year, desperation may arrive sooner than anticipated. This, by the way, is where WeWork’s pivot to the Fortune 500 is going to bite harder than a third grader in a schoolyard fight. Sublease 100,000 feet to 400 dinky entrepreneurs and start-ups and chances are some will prove to be cockroaches that survive the next downturn—the space may stay half-leased. Sublease that same 100,000 feet to General Motors or Microsoft, companies with better—and more conservative—economic forecasting models than you’ve ever dreamed of, and they will go dark before your feet hit the floor.
comment on: The Rise of the WeWorking Class · link
by: kleinbl00 · 1267 days ago

Thanks for encouraging me to give it another look. I think the tone of the article threw me off; the author is ambivalent, but not in a "I'm not buying this" sort of way but in a "I'm not sure if I should say nice things or mean things so I'll kind of split the difference" sort of way.

Your work-is-life, life-in-work concern is valid. What's interesting here though is that "shitty life/work balance" is WeWork's implicit product... and I hadn't seen it put so starkly before. Because really, they're taking the shitty "have a kombucha now get back to the galley and row, slave" aspect of working in tech and offering it up for rent. They're offering it up to you, as an individual "entrepreneur", and they're offering it up to your company, as a way of literally outsourcing their culture. Most everyone else has been pointing out that WeWork is basically a rental middleman, adding a layer of techy bullshit to existing leases and skimming off the top. This is an argument that really, they're a security blanket for people who need to feel like they have a job even when they don't.

My wife had an office in eOffices. They've been around for 20 years. They own a building and they charge you month-to-month for everything WeWork will sell you... minus the "craft on draft" and "fresh fruitwater" and "micro-roasted coffee." But they lease offices. Month-to-month. And that's probably why they're three buildings on the west side of Los Angeles rather than some $47b fuckercorn. 'cuz hey. They can't get people to pay them $50 a day for a desk.

Because you're right: they're pushing the idea that you just can't work for yourself without some fuckhead encouraging you to wear Hawaiian shirts every other thursday or some shit. And they're charging through the nose. And 20 years from now, when we're all mocking the shit out of the terrible ideas of the teens, I sincerely hope we've come to our senses about what a terrible idea all this is.

comment on: On the Clock: Your Office Is Open and the Liquor Is Flowing  · link
by: kleinbl00 · 119 days ago

I want to talk about this. I need to talk about this.

one of the shows that's been fascinating me of late:

See, WeWork was stupid by inspection. I never "got" it (lord knows I tried). It's like "our business model is to sublease space for less than we lease it for, obviously we're worth $43b." But that's not what WeWork did. And I never truly got what WeWork did until I saw Jared Leto pretending to be Adam Neumann.

I didn't realize it was summer camp.

I should have. I freely quote that over half of people under 30 in LA were receiving an average of $2000 a month from their parents to live there. That in general, well-to-do millennials who were busy "adulting" were the ones spending their parents' cash on living expenses while coming up with some jackass idea that was never going to pay off. That really, who the fuck wants to actually work when you can just pay to get a "The Office reruns only better" environment that fosters your hookup culture with no fraternization policy to worry about or long-term blowback to deal with.

    This is to say, not everyone survives a vibe shift. The ones still clinging to authenticity and fairy lights are the ones who crystallized in their hipsterdom while the culture moved on. They “bunkered down in Greenpoint and got married” or took their waxed beards and nautical tattoo sleeves and relocated to Hudson. And by that law, those who survived this shift only to get stuck in, say, Hypebeast/Woke — well, they’ve already moved to Los Angeles to houses that have room to display their sneaker collections worth a small fortune.

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

'cuz see the pandemic hit. And if you were using Daddy's money to live six to a house in Echo Park, you were suddenly 24-7 with people you avoided. And if your whole raison d'etre was to slum around being cool with other people, you were stuck being cool by yourself. No wonder 40% of them moved back home. And once you're back home, you're no longer one of the 24-hour-party-people, you're a Super Senior, you're Failure to Thrive, and your entire whole urban adventure is over, fucko.

"The vibe" is people trying to figure out what's cool by pantomiming cool people. And between moving back in with the folx and rents doing this:

There aren't a whole lot of cool people left. The ones that are now burn so much more money than the rest of us that there's no way we can keep up.

    I was in the middle of attempting to relearn which clothes I wore, how I pursued sex, what drugs I took and with whom, what music I danced to and where. I could accept that some of my old bars had closed (RIP, Frank’s, Kinfolk) and that a bunch of people I knew had babies (RIP, people who had babies), but I also felt that time had stopped in some ways.

If you were young and fashionable and gave a shit what other people thought, the pandemic was an Extinction Level Event for your social life. If all you had to define yourself was "what other people think" you were undefined. And if you hadn't figured out how to be truly independent before March 2020, February 2022 does not find you striking out on your own as if nothing had happened.

And you certainly aren't taking Daddy's money the same way you used to.

comment on: On the Clock: Your Office Is Open and the Liquor Is Flowing  · link
by: ButterflyEffect · 118 days ago

Something I’ve been thinking about today is WeWork and it’s relation to that article about boozy return to office culture, and also the ancillary impact WeWork may (not) have had on the adoption (ish) of remote working culture in the United States.

comment on: The Rise of the WeWorking Class · link
by: demure · 1267 days ago

    What's interesting here though is that "shitty life/work balance" is WeWork's implicit product... and I hadn't seen it put so starkly before. Because really, they're taking the shitty "have a kombucha now get back to the galley and row, slave" aspect of working in tech and offering it up for rent. They're offering it up to you, as an individual "entrepreneur", and they're offering it up to your company, as a way of literally outsourcing their culture. Most everyone else has been pointing out that WeWork is basically a rental middleman, adding a layer of techy bullshit to existing leases and skimming off the top.

Exactly--right on the nose. Glad you took another look.

    And 20 years from now, when we're all mocking the shit out of the terrible ideas of the teens, I sincerely hope we've come to our senses about what a terrible idea all this is.

Hear hear.