Here’s what you need to know about WeWork’s new CEO

3 Feb 2020

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A seasoned real estate executive is set to take over as CEO of WeWork later this month, with the task of turning the business around.

Back in September 2019, WeWork’s board of directors announced that Adam Neumann would be stepping down from the role of CEO.

Neumann exited the company a billionaire after stories emerged about a cereal box full of weed, tequila shots, and an ill-timed performance by one half of Run DMC.

Since then, the company has made very few headlines compared to the volume of news stories relating to Neumann’s unusual management techniques that were circulating in the weeks prior to his ousting.

In Neumann’s absence, the company appointed two WeWork execs – Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham – to the shared role of co-CEO last September, but WeWork has finally hired a new CEO.

Who is WeWork’s new CEO?

The new chief executive is Sandeep Mathrani, a seasoned real estate executive who will take over from Minson and Gunningham on 18 February. Importantly, the company will now be led by an individual who will likely view WeWork as a real estate company, rather than a tech company as Neumann was known to do.

Mathrani has spent a year and a half year as the CEO of Chicago-based Brookfield Properties’ retail group and as vice-chair of Brookfield Properties.

Before this, Mathrani spent eight years working as chief executive of General Growth Properties, which was one of the largest mall operators in the US, before it was acquired by Brookfield for $9.25bn in 2018.

In a statement on Sunday (2 February), Mathrani said: “I am honoured to be joining WeWork at this pivotal time in history. The company has redefined how people and companies approach work with an innovative platform, exceptionally talented team and significant potential if we stick to our shared values and maintain our members-first focus.”

What to expect

Mathrani will be reporting to SoftBank operating chief Marcelo Claure, who joined the WeWork board after SoftBank took 80pc ownership of the company in October 2019.

Claure has helped WeWork to develop a five-year strategy, which Mathrani will be expected to help execute. This plan includes achieving profitability on an adjusted EBITDA basis by 2021, and reaching positive free cash flow by 2022.

“Over the past 100 days since I joined WeWork, we have made tremendous progress strengthening the business,” Claure said. “We continue to make important changes to implement a strong management team that better enables the company to execute.”

If the team successfully meets the goals set in the five-year strategy, it will be a significant transformation for the company, which outlined losses of $1.9bn for 2018 in its IPO prospectus last year.

Another task for Mathrani is to fill the 600 spaces that WeWork planned to open this year, which would almost double the size of its network. Claure recently told The New York Times that one of WeWork’s plans going forward is also to renegotiate leases with building owners at some locations.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic