WeWork lost $3.2 billion last year. Now it wants to go public with a SPAC advised by Shaquille O’Neal

shaq wework

WeWork lost $3.2 billion in 2020 as the pandemic forced its coworking spaces to shutter, down from $3.5 billion the year before, the Financial Times reported Monday.

Those losses came despite WeWork cutting its capital expenditures to just $49 million, down nearly 98% from $2.2 billion in 2019, as occupancy rates at its properties plummeted from 72% to 47%, according to the Times.

But WeWork is still eyeing a public offering, now through a potential merger with BowX, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which counts former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal among its advisors, the report said.

WeWork declined to comment.

According to the Times, WeWork is seeking $1 billion in new funding, and hopes to go public at a valuation of $9 billion, including debt. The Wall Street Journal previously reported in January that WeWork was eying a deal with the SPAC that would value it at $10 billion.

The new valuation would be less than a fifth of the $47 billion WeWork sought when it initially announced its plans for an initial public offering in 2019. Those dreams were shattered amid revelations about the company’s shaky finances, conflicts of interest, and the wild partying culture fueled by founder and then-CEO Adam Neumann.

But one investor pitched by WeWork doubted its most recent projections, which included revenues of $7 billion by 2024, adjusted earnings of $485 million next year, and 90% occupancy rates by the end of 2022, according to the Financial Times.

Since its downfall, WeWork has been mired in legal and financial trouble. SoftBank, the company’s largest stakeholder, injected billions of additional funding into the company to help keep it afloat even as other investors sought to back out.

Neumann, after stepping down as CEO, also sued SoftBank for backing out of buying nearly $1 billion of his WeWork shares. As part of a proposed settlement, Neumann will get a $50 million payout on top of $500 million from SoftBank for buying his shares, and will leave WeWork’s board for a year, Bloomberg reported last month, helping open the door for a public offering.

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Shaquille O’Neal set up his new ad agency in Atlanta because the city is a ‘driver of Black culture.’ The Georgia capital is now one of the best places in America for diverse advertising agencies.

Omid Farhang and Shaquille O'Neal
Majority founding partners Omid Farhang and Shaquille O’Neal.

  • Shaquille O’Neal cofounded a new ad agency, Majority, in Atlanta.
  • “Atlanta is a driver of Black culture, which is a driver of pop culture,” O’Neal said.
  • Cofounder Omid Farhang said Atlanta agencies like Majority can amplify diverse voices.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Shaquille O’Neal last week unveiled his newest venture, Majority, an advertising agency based in Atlanta that will focus on telling diverse stories.

According to Majority cofounder Omid Farhang, the NBA legend will be more than a silent partner.

“Shaq’s role will be wide-ranging,” Farhang told Insider. “He will help open doors, connect dots, create opportunities, celebrate successes, and advance the overall agenda of the agency wherever possible.”

O’Neal may even jump into the creative pitch meetings when he’s needed and available, said Farhang.

He said: “Knowing he’s a busy guy with many business interests, we will utilize him judiciously where we think he can have maximum impact. This is not celebrity gimmickry, it’s genuine partnership.”

Farhang, O’Neal, and two founding partners – CSO Asmirh Davis and CMO Jorge Hernandez – decided early on that Atlanta would be the right place for their agency. They made their choice a big part of the opening salvo posted on their website.

Atlanta’s not the east or west coast, so it’s not the type of agency you’d find there, the pair said. Atlanta’s where “the Hollywood of the South collides with the Silicon Valley of the South.”

The choice of location says a lot about their agency and the industry at large. For one thing, O’Neal is a powerhouse marketing force, and, as such, he could have chosen to open an agency in a more traditional spot, like New York or Los Angeles.

By choosing Atlanta, O’Neal and Farhang have extended a conversation that’s been going on for years about how diverse voices can be heard more loudly in advertising. Last year, for example, amid protests and soul-searching after several Black people were violently killed, about 600 creative professionals signed an open letter calling for more inclusion in the industry, as AdWeek reported at the time.

Signatories called for agencies to rethink their diversity policies, expand internships and residencies for under-represented groups, and finally put an end to the “boys’ club” mentality in the industry.

The letter said: “Though advertising agencies boast some of the most politically progressive business leaders in America, agency leadership has been blind to the systemic racism and inequity that persists within our industry. Many gallons of ink have been spilled on op-eds and think pieces, but tangible progress has eluded this industry for too long.”

One way to change the conversation was to move it to a new location, according to Majority. In press materials prepped for the launch, O’Neal said: “Atlanta is a driver of Black culture, which is a driver of pop culture. And pop culture is where the best marketing lives.”

Majority’s not the only Atlanta agency that’s tackling diversity. Last December, a number of Georgia agencies signed a pledge saying their agencies would reflect their home city’s population – of which 62% are people of color – by 2030, according to AdAge.

Farhang had done work around the world, everywhere from Los Angeles to Boulder to London, before he landed in Atlanta. “Atlanta changed me. To the degree that I felt the strong desire to plant my roots long term and figure out how to be contributing members of our community,” he said.

Long before he enlisted O’Neal as a partner, Farhang had been thinking of a way to bottle his feelings about Atlanta, repackaging them as a creative agency. He’d looked at the leadership of other Atlanta agencies, and realized the city’s diversity wasn’t well-reflected.

He’d met O’Neal on a project for American Express, so he reached out to see whether O’Neal might share his passion for creating a diverse agency in Atlanta.

“As the industry confronts this longstanding diversity problem, what if we started an agency in Atlanta that actually tapped into the diverse creative firepower that makes Atlanta unlike any other city in America and fuels so much of popular culture?” he asked.

Majority’s starting with a few clients, including goPuff, the on-demand delivery app.

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Shaq just sold his Florida mansion for $16.5 million after 3 years on the market. Look inside the home that comes with a 6,000-square-foot basketball court.

shaq's florida house
Shaq bought the Florida estate for a little less than $4 million in 1993.

Retired NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal just sold his lakeside mansion in Florida for $16.5 million, Sarah Paynter reported for The New York Post.

The 31,000-square-foot house sits on nearly four acres in the exclusive, gated golf community about a 30-minute drive from Orlando.

O’Neal, who retired in 2011 after making more than $286 million over the course of his basketball career, bought the house in 1993 for a little less than $4 million, according to Realtor. He first put it on the market in 2018 for $28 million, dropped the price to $21.9 million in 2019, and discounted it again to $16.5 million in 2020.

The 12-bedroom Florida home is in the exclusive Isleworth community, a 600-acre golf-club community bordering a lake that’s full of grand cypress and oak trees, and lavish estates. A website for the house touted a message for potential buyers: “Live life large, live like Shaq.”

Compass Florida’s Atlas Team agents Tiffany Pantozzi, Jared Ringel, and Chris Franciosa held the listing.

Here’s a look at the mansion O’Neal sold after nearly 28 years of ownership.

Retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal just sold his lakeside estate in Windermere, Florida, for $16.5 million.

shaq florida house

He first put it on the market in 2018 for $28 million and then dropped the price to $21.9 million in 2019. It was further discounted to $16.5 million in 2020.

Shaq owned the property for nearly 28 years.

shaq florida house

Despite the price chops, he still turned a profit on the home. He paid a little less than $4 million for the property in 1993 — the year after he was drafted by the Orlando Magic.

The house sits on the shores of Lake Butler in Isleworth, an exclusive, gated golf community about a 30-minute drive from Orlando.

shaq florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

It features nearly 700 feet of prime lake frontage.

shaq florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

A private pier with two covered boat slips and two boat lifts stretches out onto Lake Butler.

shaq florida mansion

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

Built in 1990, the 12-bedroom home spans more than 31,000 square feet.

shaq florida mansion

Source: Realtor

The entryway of the home is marked by stately white columns.

shaq florida mansion

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

The grand foyer features a curved double grand staircase and polished marble floors.

shaq florida mansion

Source: The Agency

It leads into the estate’s two-story great room, which spans 1,170 square feet by itself.

shaq mansion florida

Source: The Agency

The formal dining room can seat 14 people.

shaq's florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

The home’s master bedroom has a mirrored wall, a gilded ceiling, and expansive views of the lake.

shaq's florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

The master bathroom suite is a bath lover’s dream …

shaq florida mansion

Source: The Agency

… and it’s bigger than many people’s bedrooms.

shaq florida mansion

Source: The Agency

The master suite also includes a spacious walk-in closet.

shaq mansion florida

Source: The Agency

The home’s 11 other bedrooms are similarly roomy and include either views of the lake or the lush Florida greenery. Most bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms.

shaq florida mansion

Source: The Agency

The home has a chef’s kitchen with professional appliances.

shaq's florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

The soundproof home theater can seat at least 10 people.

shaq florida mansion

Source: The Agency

The house includes its own cigar lounge with a private balcony and bar …

shaq florida house

Source: The Agency

… complete with a walk-in cigar humidor and plenty of wine storage.

shaq florida mansion

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

An office on the ground floor provides a workspace with serene water views.

shaq florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

There’s also an “aquarium-style” room that features a triangular saltwater fish tank.

shaq florida mansion

Source: The Agency

As you might expect from one of the most famous NBA players of all time, the house has its very own 6,000-square-foot indoor basketball court.

shaq's florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

The words “Shaq Center” are printed on the floor.

shaq's florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

There’s also a garage with space for at least 17 cars.

shaq's florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

Previous listing photos show a room full of memorabilia from Shaq’s basketball career.

shaq florida mansion

Source: The Agency

The mansion also has its own recording studio and a game room.

shaq florida mansion

Source: The Agency

Outside is a 95-foot-long swimming pool that gets up to 15 feet deep.

shaq florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

A waterfall flows into the resort-style pool …

shaq's florida house

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

… and an outdoor BBQ space includes a grill and sink, as well as underwater stools, which can make the space a poolside bar.

shaq florida mansion

Source: Atlas Team, Compass Florida

Shaq’s home is not short on security features.

shaq's florida house
Shaq bought the Florida estate for a little less than $4 million in 1993.

According to the listing, the home comes with a safe room, and the property is double-gated with a 10-foot privacy wall.

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