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Inside WeWork’s $20B Valuation: Is It Really Worth It?

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In 2010, WeWork opened their first space in New York City. Eight years, and many billions later, WeWork is now the most hyped startup in the world.

By definition, WeWork’s model is ridiculously straightforward. WeWork is an office leasing company…that doesn’t own any properties.

What WeWork does is this:

They take up big commercial leases. They then decorate the space in their signature style with beer and coffee on tap. From there, WeWork rents out the same office space to freelancers, startups and smaller businesses in smaller chunks and month-to-month.

Despite not holding any assets initially (though that’s changing), WeWork has grown at a frenetic pace nonetheless. From nearly $1M in seed funding back in 2011, WeWork jumped to $1.5B three years later before peaking at the huge current $20B valuation.

By comparison, major property owner REIT SL Green — which actually owns real estate — is valued at $8.9B.

This insane level of growth has led to industry chatter that WeWork could be overvalued. In fact, others say their real valuation figure is $3B, based on revenue metrics of competitors like IWG and Regus.

Not to mention this: WeWork isn’t even profitable.

To make some sort of sense of all this, let’s take a look at their model, what they’re up to, and what’s in store for the coworking giant.

Creating efficient ecosystems

No longer a new entrant to the shared office space economy, WeWork aims to be the go-to platform for businesses.

Or as they say, in the WeWork Manifesto: First, Office Space. Next, the World.”

Rather than just offering space, WeWork’s business model enables startups to focus on driving their business through the community of startups in their spaces.

One of its primary goals is to create an ecosystem that provides a range of services—right from free drinks to conference rooms and wireless services.

From the standpoint of managing space, WeWork has an efficiency that would make any slumlord green with envy (and that’s a compliment): WeWork has one workstation for every 50 square feet.

Phenomenal growth

Crammed up space aside—the companies seem to like working side-by-side, WeWork’s disruptive model has played host to over 250,000 members across 22 countries.

Most analysts remain upbeat about its momentum, as well. Especially with its plans to open almost 400 offices across 27 countries in 2019. A move that will double the number of members year-over-year.

Co-working to ‘co-living’

The next business vertical is the co-living one with their WeLive concept. Their first one opened in 2016 right above an existing WeWork office on 110 Wall Street in New York City.

With WeLive, WeWork offers furnished, move-in apartments with a similar ethos to the office space—just show up with your bag and you’re ready to live.

The rents for these apartments will be inclusive of internet connection and cleaning services, with similar short-term month-to-month leases.

The company’s “WeLive” business model can be a high growth segment for WeWork. The co-living vertical might offset any decline in demand from commercial businesses.

But are they profitable, though?!

No. We mentioned that. But they don’t necessarily want to be. And they are hacking their top line revenue substantially.

An increase in occupancy rates has led WeWork to squeeze more revenue out of existing markets. Rapid expansion also played a major role in revenue growth.

Strategic choice or not, WeWork continues to book losses and burn cash. In the first six months of 2018, WeWork posted losses of $723M on revenue of $764M.

This does not concern investors as they are looking at the huge market opportunity available for WeWork. Japan-based Softbank, one of the largest investors in WeWork, has invested a whopping $4.4B in the company.

(That’s another story we will tell another time. Including how CEO Adam Neumann rode with the Softbank boss and signed a $3B investment deal on a digital cocktail napkin right there.)

The money backers expect WeWork’s valuation to reach $35B in the next round of funding.

This would put WeWork above other unicorns including Airbnb ($31B) and SpaceX (approx. $22B), making it the second-most valuable start-up in the United States behind Uber.

Entrepreneurs

[INFOGRAPHIC] How To Start (And Grow) Your Business With $10,000

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Today, starting a new business is easier than ever. With Fiverr, Upwork and social media, you can get started in a weekend—and for very little money.

(What you’re reading right now was created in a week, by the way…)

But if you actually have a little nest egg saved up?!

Awww, man, you are off to the races! SO without further ado, here’s how you can kickstart—and grow—your business with $10,000, courtesy of this oh-so-pretty Infographic from Intuit.

Source: [Intuit]

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Entrepreneurs

VIDEO: Warren Buffet Bets Big On These Traits To Become Rich

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With a net worth that crosses a whopping $100B, it’s hard to question Warren Buffett’s investment moves. Here are the traits that the super investor believes can get one to be financially independent and significantly rich.

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Entrepreneurs

[Q&A] This Entrepreneur Founded A $50B+ Company—And Then Helped Startups Raise Money From The Crowd

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Howard Marks is one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the modern, digital age, a rare founder who’s actually innovated before said innovation truly mainstream.

And not just once, but twice.

As founder of Activision, Howard helped kick off a gaming bonanza that’s become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, birthing an entire new industry known as eSports.

Largely driven by Fortnite—a gaming franchise owned by Activision—eSports is expected to top $1.1B this year in global revenues, according to Forbes. Today, Activision is worth over $54B, trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

(In fact, had you invested $10K in Howard’s IPO, your investment today would be worth well over $700K.)

JOBS Act IPO revolution

Later on, as founder of Startengine, Howard helped kickstart the equity crowdfunding trend, opening an avenue for early-stage startups to raise money and redefine public offerings.

Back in 2012, President Obama signed off on the JOBS Act, allowing companies to go public, taking investments from non-accredited investors (essentially anyone without a net worth of $1M), without having to go through the tedious process of listing on New York Stock Exchange.

As head of Startengine, Howard’s built one of the market leaders in the equity crowdfunding space, with $43.72M in total investments in 2019 alone. 

More recently, StartEngine made a coup, joining forces with one of the most influential investors in the form of Shark Tank’s “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary, as reported by Crowdfund Insider.

Crowdfund Insider, the online authority for all things crowdfunding, recently did an exclusive Q&A with Howard, touching on the new deal with Mr. Wonderful, his business and the future of crowdfunding.

Here’s what he had to say.


Challenges of crowdfunding…

One of the biggest challenges we face as a company is that equity crowdfunding is not well understood by the general public. If you walk down the street and ask a stranger if they know what equity crowdfunding is, odds are they say they’ve never heard of it before.

Doing a deal with Mr. Wonderful…

Over the past few years, we’ve had several Shark Tank alumni raise capital on StartEngine, and we eventually got connected to Kevin. When we learned that he had been following the equity crowdfunding space for a few years and wanted to help inform others about the opportunities for raising capital using equity crowdfunding, it was an easy decision to form a partnership with him.

Mr. Wonderful’s role…

Kevin O’Leary is StartEngine’s strategic advisor and a StartEngine shareholder. His focus will be on creating more awareness about StartEngine and equity crowdfunding in general. Kevin believes in the equity crowdfunding model and our business and is helping to spread the word. He is even encouraging the companies in his own portfolio to use StartEngine for their next funding round.

Deal flow during the COVID-19…

Our entire team is operating remotely and staying safe during the pandemic, and our business itself is thriving. We’ve seen a good increase over the last 30 days in the companies applying to raise on StartEngine.

From both the company and investor side, StartEngine’s business has proven to be resilient to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

On the SEC and raising the cap for what startups can raise…

We support the changes wholeheartedly. It’s clear that $1.07M is too low a ceiling for Regulation Crowdfunding [Reg CF], given the average size of seed funding rounds today, and it’s time that we increase the limit to help small businesses achieve their goals.

In fact, we encouraged all 10,000+ of our shareholders to write letters to the SEC a month ago to encourage them to increase the limit of Regulation Crowdfunding from $1.07M to $5M to help small businesses today when they desperately need access to capital.

Accredited investors vs. non-accredited investors…

Howard Marks: Our business, and the business of equity crowdfunding, is bringing investment opportunities to non-accredited investors. We do not focus on accredited investors. An expanded definition may encourage those new accredited investors to feel more confident making investments on our platform, as well as increase the amount they can invest in a given year, which would be beneficial to the investing space. However, I don’t believe this would have a large impact on equity crowdfunding.

On changes he wants to see…

Howard Marks: The change we are most excited about at StartEngine is the proposal to increase the limit of Regulation Crowdfunding from $1.07M to $5M. Of all of the proposed changes, I believe that one will have the biggest impact for small businesses and will encourage more entrepreneurs to turn to equity crowdfunding.

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