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.