Matt Levine’s most recent Money Stuff article is classic Matt Levine. It is both entertaining and informative. This one is on WeWork – the coworking startup that has committed to 14 million square feet of office space around the world and will have $18 billion in rent payments due over the next decade.
Here is an excerpt:
WeWork Cos. is a real-estate company with a couple of innovative twists on the model. First, rather than owning its buildings, it rents them: It leases office space from regular real-estate companies, adds … beer? … or whatever, and then subleases the space to tenants at higher rates. And second, rather than being valued like a real-estate company, it gets valued like a hot tech startup — “the sharing economy,” ping-pong tables, etc. — so it can raise gobs of money from SoftBank Group Corp. at a $20 billion valuation without ever getting particularly close to profitability. And look at all these words:
“Indeed, to assess WeWork by conventional metrics is to miss the point, according to [Chief Executive Officer Adam] Neumann. WeWork isn’t really a real estate company. It’s a state of consciousness, he argues, a generation of interconnected emotionally intelligent entrepreneurs.”
Really, what sort of multiple would you put on a state of consciousness?