A SoftBank partner described WeWork a very, very good business – Business Insider

  • SoftBank Investment Advisers managing partner Deep Nishar defended the firm’s investment in office-sharing company WeWork, describing the core idea as “very, very good” at the DLD conference in Munich.
  • Nishar also acknowledged governance issues at WeWork, which canceled its IPO and pushed out its cofounder Adam Neumann before taking up a rescue deal from SoftBank in late 2019.
  • SoftBank is the biggest shareholder in WeWork, having stumped up around $13 billion for the company to date.
  • After the rescue deal, WeWork fired 2,400 employees in November and the firm remains in turnaround mode.
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SoftBank is still bullish on WeWork.

Deep Nishar, senior managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, described the core idea behind WeWork as “very, very good” onstage at the DLD conference in Munich on Saturday while acknowledging the firm’s governance issues.

SoftBank Investment Advisers manages the $100 billion Vision Fund, and the company is one of the biggest shareholders in WeWork.

Asked at DLD about WeWork, Nishar described the situation as “naturally complex” and noted that the Vision Fund had invested in more than 80 companies.

“You’re going to get the bad news first, that’s what happens. The companies that are not doing well, you’re going to get [that] news sooner, and the companies that are doing really well, you’ll hear about them later,” Nishar said.

“We don’t expect all 80-plus investments that we have to be amazing successes,” he added, going on to note that eight SoftBank-funded firms had gone public, including Guardant Health and Slack.

He continued: “We’ve had really good outcomes, and then things like WeWork which haven’t gone quite the way we planned, but we are still in it, we are involved, we are helping the company because we believe the idea at its core is very, very good and they had some governance and execution challenges that we are going to help solve with the next set of management.”

adam neumann

Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for WeWork

WeWork’s core proposition is to take out long-term leases on buildings and fit them up to rent out to larger enterprises or smaller startups. The company spiraled to a $47 billion valuation — one SoftBank executive predicted a $100 billion valuation — puzzling critics who pointed out that WeWork was no different from any other office-leasing company.

The firm filed for IPO in August 2019 but pulled the float after intense public criticism of its business model and numbers. Then-CEO and cofounder Adam Neumann was pushed out after a string of lurid stories about his conduct and personality, and WeWork is now run by co-CEOs Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham.

SoftBank eventually took control of the company in October 2019 in a deal that saw WeWork’s valuation plummet to around $8 billion.

You can hear Nishar’s comments in full here:


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