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Matt Levine

We Can Be Weird, or It Can Be Public

Also rude VCs, bank errors, public disclosure, retail brokers and college admissions.

Let’s start with the bad news: In yesterday’s newsletter I told you about a hilarious lawsuit between the estate of Lehman Brothers and a broker called Exotix, in which Lehman and Exotix both thought that they were trading $7,000 worth of bonds but Lehman ended up sending Exotix $7 million worth, because bond numbers are confusing and it is surprisingly easy to be off by a factor of 1,000. I was mostly interested in the details of how the trade got messed up, but I … somehow got the verdict wrong? I wrote that Exotix won, but actually Lehman won. I am very sorry for the error but, in my defense, it was weirdly appropriate. I was demonstrating how easy it is to be off by a factor of 1,000 by getting the verdict entirely wrong, or something. Let’s go with that. 

Now the good news. In Monday’s newsletter, we talked—as we have every day lately—about the initial public offering of the We Co., formerly WeWork, which does not seem to be going particularly well. WeWork last raised money privately at a $47 billion valuation, and was hoping to be valued as high as $65 billion in its IPO, but the recent talk has included phrases like “as low as $15 billion.” I suggested on Monday that, if WeWork is unhappy with its reception by public investors, there is something it could do about it: Some of the pushback to WeWork has focused on its investor-unfriendly governance, the triple-class stock that cements founder Adam Neumann’s control for his lifetime and beyond, and the conflicts of interest between Neumann and WeWork’s shareholders. That all seemed fixable: