Ahead of WeWork’s initial public offering that is rumored to take place next month, analysts and investors are taking a look back at IWG, who went public almost 20 years ago.
IWG is a direct competitor and shares a nearly identical business model to WeWork. Analysts are particularly focused on the fact that IWG filed for chapter II bankruptcy after the recession of the early 2000s.
Former and current executives from IWG say that its biggest issue was that it rented furnished offices to single companies on flexible arrangements, so that it was left with large vacancies with firms moved out. The company now avoids leasing entire locations to single companies.
With an economic downturn likely on the horizon, this leaves questions of how investors could be confident in the We Company.
The comparison between the two firms is also raising questions about We’s valuation of $47 billion. To put it in perspective, We has never made a profit and IWG has been profitable for years, yet only has one-tenth of WeWork’s massive valuation.
“I’m going to watch WeWork’s numbers very carefully and then probably be buying them short,” said Frank Cottle, chairman and CEO of the Alliance Business Centers Group.
Currently, WeWork has 604,000 workstations, while IWG has 602,535. Additionally, WeWork outfits its workspaces with open, communal areas and IWG opts for a more traditional layout. Despite the numerous similarities, We claims to be “the pioneer of the space-as-a-service model.”