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“WeWork on the Edge! $47B Company Files for Bankruptcy Protection

WeWork, the office-sharing company once valued at over $47 billion, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The company, which started almost a decade ago in New York City, had become one of the fastest growing companies in the world, valued at more than $47 billion in January of this year. WeWork had been aiming to disrupt the traditional office rental industry by offering office space on a flexible, month-to-month basis. However, the company stumbled when it was hit by a series of scandals and controversies surrounding its executive leadership and debt management. As a result, investors withdrew funding and the company was unable to meet its financial obligations. In a statement, WeWork CEO, Sandeep Mathrani said, “After weighing a number of alternatives, we determined that a court-supervised process under Chapter 11 will best protect our business as we continue to pursue our long-term strategy.” The company has filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court and is expected to receive a $5 billion lifeline from SoftBank, its largest investor. The funding is expected to help the company restructure and reorganize its debt. WeWork is the latest high-profile example of a “unicorn,” a privately held startup that is valued at over $1 billion. Its bankruptcy filing comes on the heels of the similar struggles of other recent technology and business successes, such as Uber and Lyft. Analysts believe that WeWork’s difficulties are symptomatic of a broader trend in the startup world. The era of large investments and inflated valuations is coming to an end, as investors become more wary of taking risks in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It remains to be seen how WeWork will bounce back from this setback, but it’s clear that the company’s struggles are indicative of a much larger issue facing the startup world today. With caution and careful planning, we may see WeWork rise from the ashes, and in so doing, usher in a renewed optimism in the startup industry.