What might just be the least desirable job available has been filled. WeWork officially named David Tolley as its Chief Executive Office on Monday. Moving from interim to permanent CEO is typically a vote of confidence, but Tolley is already fighting an uphill battle under a heap of skepticism, operational challenges, and financial ruin.
Following the departure of CEO Sandeep Mathrani earlier this year, Tolley has been acting as the company’s interim Chief Executive. He’s also been a board member since February 2023, and has since been given the dire responsibility of leading the revival of the struggling coworking giant.
WeWork, which once had ambitious plans to go public in 2019, faced mounting challenges as investors expressed concerns over its business model. This model involved taking long-term leases and subsequently renting them out for short durations. The skepticism led to a dramatic drop in the company’s valuation, with its shares losing almost all their value since their debut in October 2021, according to Reuters.
The company has gone through numerous hurdles after its initial public offering, including a 1-for-40 reverse stock split in order to maintain a listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
A week after CEO Sandeep Mathrani resigned, WeWork’s CFO Andre Fernandez did the same. By early August, the company had raised doubts about its ability to continue operations. WeWork has since made the decision to withhold interest payments totaling millions as the company attempts to carefully navigate massive lease renegotiations.
The fast rise in popularity during the early days of WeWork revealed the growing demand for flexible workspaces. This includes spaces that cater to freelancers, startups, and now even established companies looking for more adaptable spaces.
The official appointment of Tolley shows the company is likely doubling down on its current strategy and its renewed focus on stability.
The steady rise in demand for flexible workspaces, driven by changing post-pandemic economic factors and technological advancements, will likely persist in the coming years. Whether WeWork can turn its operations around and capitalize on the market it helped normalize, will now fall on Tolley’s leadership.