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Opinion
Chris Bryant

WeWork Has Learned Its Lesson From Its IPO Fail. But Have We?

Startup founders remain the kings of the cheap money era and unicorn numbers have exploded. SPACs add fuel to an incendiary mix.

Does it finally work?

Does it finally work?

Source: Bloomberg

Two years ago, a failed initial public offering made WeWork Inc. the poster child for startup excess and corporate governance failure. Today, the shared-office provider finally joins the public markets, having completed a merger with a blank-check firm, BowX Acquisition Corp. Its shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange and the ticker is, of course, “WE.” 

This has been a chastening experience for WeWork and it seems to have learned its lesson. But I fear the same isn’t true of startups and venture funding in general. Unbridled exuberance in today’s private markets means a WeWork-like disaster is likely to happen again. And, next time, it might come after the company has listed, meaning ordinary investors get hurt.