We should all have the confidence of WeWork’s bankruptcy announcement

  • WeWork’s bankruptcy announcement is particularly rosy about its future. 
  • The company, founded by Adam Neumann, was once valued at $47 billion. It filed for Chapter 11 this week.
  • Current CEO David Tolley says the company has “a bright future.”

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It’s important to be kind to yourself, even when you stumble. Keep a positive attitude. Fake it till you make it.

It seems WeWork certainly took that advice to heart when it wrote its announcement of its November 6 bankruptcy filing. Although, generally speaking, filing for Chapter 11 just a few years after your company was valued at $47 billion is not “good,” per se.

WeWork’s decline has been a wild ride, from its massive valuation to the disastrous 2019 WeWork IPO, where many of the company’s problems — especially founder Adam Neumann‘s eccentricities and the company’s apparently financial instability — were revealed. Not long after it went public, the pandemic and continued remote work decimated WeWork’s core commercial real estate business.

But from the bankruptcy announcement, you wouldn’t know all that. In addition to details about the restructuring, the chipper message goes (bold font is Insider’s):

WeWork has a deliberate and value maximizing lease rejection plan that is expected to position the company for operational and financial success. As part of today’s filing, WeWork is requesting the ability to reject the leases of certain locations, which are largely non-operational and all affected members have received advanced notice.
David Tolley, CEO of WeWork said, “It is the WeWork community that makes us successful. Our more than half-million members around the world turn to us for the best-in-class spaces, hospitality, and technology that our 2,500 dedicated employees and valued partners provide. WeWork has a strong foundation, a dynamic business, and a bright future.”
“Now is the time for us to pull the future forward by aggressively addressing our legacy leases and dramatically improving our balance sheet,” Tolley continued. “We defined a new category of working, and these steps will enable us to remain the global leader in flexible work. I am deeply grateful for the support of our financial stakeholders as we work together to strengthen our capital structure and expedite this process through the Restructuring Support Agreement. We remain committed to investing in our products, services, and world-class team of employees to support our community.”

Compared to other recent bankruptcy announcements, this reads like a celebration. For example, Hello Bello (Kirstin Bell and Dax Shepard’s baby care line), Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Sears all had more buttoned-up and humble announcements — listing out the nitty gritty of what law firms are doing what, and a passing “thanks to our customers.”

Rite Aid — which, like WeWork — plans to stay in business, also had a more somber announcement when it filed last month.

Perhaps WeWork needs to keep a confident outlook to keep its corporate clients from fleeing. Businesses that rent WeWork space certainly don’t want to feel nervous they might get kicked to the curb any day if things don’t shape up.

But if any company is going to seem mildly delusional in its bankruptcy announcement, WeWork certainly has the precedent for it. And we love that for them.

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Katie Notopoulos