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What Happens When Hype Meets Reality: Term Sheet

September 9, 2019, 1:48 PM UTC

In an all-hands meeting with employees last week, WeWork CEO Adam Neumann gave an update on the state of the business and reportedly joked that dealing with the Securities and Exchange Commission during the IPO process helped him understand Elon Musk better, according to The WSJ.

In my opinion, WeWork’s current predicament isn’t very funny. The co-working behemoth is reportedly considering a valuation for its IPO that may be below the already-slashed $20 billion. Some investors are reportedly even pushing the company to postpone the IPO. After Term Sheet reached out for comment on these points, WeWork declined to comment.

At this point, a looooot of people are counting on WeWork to go public, and the company is kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. If it goes public at a significantly lower valuation than $47 billion, the optics wouldn’t be good for SoftBank (which is currently trying to raise it’s second fund). It would also be bad for employee morale if it doesn’t perform as expected. But at the same time, if SoftBank isn’t willing to plow billions more dollars into WeWork, then it has no choice but to go public to raise more capital. As Dan Primack noted on Twitter, WeWork’s $4 billion debt raise is contingent on the company going public. So this whole situation is just one big ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

There are also other factors to consider. If there really is an economic downturn on the horizon, WeWork might as well go public now before the market turns. On the flip side, WeWork as a public company during a recession doesn’t seem like the greatest scenario either. In its S-1, the company lists a recession as a potential risk factor, explaining that an “economic downturn or subsequent declines in market rents” could hurt its operations. It goes on to say: “While we believe that we have a durable business model in all economic cycles, there can be no assurance that this will be the case.”

In May, Neumann told Business Insider that a downturn could actually benefit the business. He says that WeWork is 50% cheaper than the average office in New York City, and that his company offers “flexibility and mobility,” which helps in a slowing market, and because half of its members do business with one another, they could buoy one another. Buuuut let’s not forget these theories have never been tested given that WeWork has not experienced a global economic downturn since founding its business. And neither have most of its peers.

What do you guys think is the best possible path for WeWork at this point? Go public? Stay private? Raise more money from SoftBank? Email me at with the subject line “WeWork Feedback,” and note that your response may be used in a future Term Sheet with your first name only. 

MORE INSURANCE NEWS: Remember when I said insurance was sexy? Well, I wasn’t lying. Today, Root Insurance, a Columbus, Ohio-based car insurance startup, officially raised $350 million in funding at a valuation of $3.65 billion. DST Global and Coatue Management co-lead the round, and were joined by investors including Drive Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Ribbit Capital, Scale Venture Partners, and Tiger Global Management. 

WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL: Pitchbook just released its 2019 rankings for the university programs that produce the most entrepreneurs that go on to raise venture capital funding. Here are the top 10 undergraduate programs:

1. Stanford University
2. University of California, Berkeley
3. MIT
4. Harvard University
5. University of Pennsylvania
6. Cornell University
7. University of Michigan
8. Tel Aviv University
9. University of Texas
10. University of Illinois


- AppZen, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AI platform for back office automation, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Coatue Management led the round, and was joined by investors including Redpoint Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

- HackerOne, a San Francisco-based hacker-powered pentest and bug bounty platform, raised $36.4 million in Series D funding. Valor Equity Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Benchmark, New Enterprise Associates, Dragoneer Investment Group and EQT Ventures. 

- BrightInsight, Inc, a San Jose, Calif.-based online platform for biopharama and medtech, raised $25 million in Series A funding. New Leaf Venture Partners and Eclipse Ventures co-led the round. 

- Syte, an Israel-based visual AI technology company, raised $21.5 million in Series B funding. Viola Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Storm Ventures, Commerce Ventures, and Axess Ventures. 

- CasaOne, a furniture rental startup, raised $16 million in venture funding at a valuation between $100 million and $150 million, according to The WSJ. Accel led the round, and was joined by investors including WeWork, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc, Freestyle Capital and Array Ventures. Read more.

- Hotel Engine, a Denver, Colo.-based hotel booking and management platform for business travel, raised $16 million in Series A funding. Telescope Partners led the round.

- Exeger, a Sweden-based manufacturer of a carbon positive material that converts light energy to electrical energy, raised $10 million in funding from SoftBank Group Corp.

- Spirable, a London-based provider of personalized video marketing automation, raised 6 million pounds ($7.4 million) in Series A funding. Smedvig Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Frontline Ventures, Downing Ventures and 24 Haymarket.

- RippleMatch, a New York-based job hiring platform, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Investors include G20 Ventures, Accomplice, Bullpen Capital and AlleyCorp.

- Superside, a Palo Alto, California-based design company, raised $3.5 million in funding. Freestyle Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including High Alpha Ventures, Y Combinator and Alliance Ventures.

- Zippity, an Austin, Texas-based onsite car care provider for the workplace, raised $3 million in seed funding. Schooner Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including BP Ventures and LaunchPad Ventures.

- My Intelligence Machines, a Montreal-based provides a SAAS platform for analyzing omics data via different types of artificial intelligence, raised C$2.6 million ($2 million) in seed funding. Investors include Anges Québec, Anges Québec Capital, Desjardins Capital, Consortium MEDTEQ, Real Ventures and StandUp Ventures

- Emi Labs, an Argentina-based A.I. platform that automates the hiring process for low-skilled jobs, raised $2 million in seed funding. Khosla Ventures led the round. 

- Engage Mobilize, a Denver-based cloud-based digital field management, procurement, and electronic ticketing platform built for the oil and gas industry, raised Series A funding of an undisclosed amount. Cottonwood Venture Partners led the round.


- Specific Diagnostics, a Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of in-vitro diagnostic systems for the detection and identification of microorganisms, raised $12.5 million in funding, from Telegraph Hill Partners.


- Branford Castle Partners acquired Pulse Veterinary Technologies LLC, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based provider of shock wave therapy devices for the veterinary industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Partners Group acquired a majority equity stake in BCR Group, a China-based retail display solution provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- JMC Capital Partners acquired PRO-VISION, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based provider of rugged rear vision and video recording systems. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Susquehanna Private Capital made an investment in McNally Industries, a Grantsburg, Wisc.-based precision systems manufacturer to defense and industrial markets. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Saw Mill Capital acquired DPIS Builder Services, a Houston-based provider of outsourced engineering, inspection, energy efficiency, and quality assurance services to single-family homebuilders. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Summit Companies, which is backed by CI Capital Partners, acquired two East Texas-based fire and life safety companies: Southern Supply Company and United Security Services. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Ascensus Specialties, which is backed by Wind Point Partners, agreed to acquire Callery, an Evans City, Penn.-based producer of  boranes and specialty alcoholates. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- TA Associates made an investment in MISA Joint Stock Company, a Vietnam-based software provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Belcan acquired Lagoni Engineering, a London-based multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy and technical services provider focused on the energy industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma agreed to acquire a 10% stake in Roivant Sciences, a Switzerland-based drugmaker, for $3 billion. 

- Commvault agreed to acquire Hedvig, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based software-defined storage company, for $225 million. Hedvig had raised approximately $52 million from investors including EDBI, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Atlantic Bridge Ventures, True Ventures and Vertex Ventures.


- Saudi Aramco is reportedly giving lead roles to JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and National Commercial Bank for its IPO set to run by 2020 to 2021, Reuters reports citing sources. Read more.

- Ping Identity, a Denver-based firm focused on digital authentication and security, plans to raise $187 million in an IPO of 12.5 million shares priced between $14 to $16. The firm posted revenue of $201.6 million in 2018 and loss of $12.4 million. Vista Equity Partners, which acquired the firm for $600 million in 2016, backs it. It plans to list on the NYSE as “PING.” Read more.

- ADC Therapeutics SA, a Switzerland-based biotech focused on antibody therapies for cancer, filed to raise $150 million in an IPO. It posted revenue of $1.1 million and losses of $123.1 million in 2018. Auven Therapeutics and AstraZeneca back the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “ADCT.” Read more.

- Datadog, a New York-based SaaS-based analytics and monitoring platform for technology stacks, plans to raise $492 million in an IPO of 24 million shares priced between $14 to $16 apiece. The firm posted $198.1 million in revenue and a loss of $10.8 million in 2018. Index Ventures (20.1% pre-offering), OpenView Venture Partners (16%), and ICONIQ Strategic Partners (11.3%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “DDOG.” Read more.

- Frequency Therapeutics, a Woburn, Mass.-based firm focused on degenerative diseases, filed to raise $100 million in an IPO. It has yet to post a revenue, and posted losses of $19.2 million in 2018. Perceptive Advisors and Taiwania Capital back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “FREQ.” Read more.

- Dermavant Sciences, a London-based Phase 3 biotech for dermatological diseases, withdrew  plans to raise $100 million in an IPO of 7.7 million shares priced between $12 to $14. It has yet to post a revenue, and posted losses of $42.7 million in 2018. Roviant backs the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “DRMT.” Read more.

- Aprea Therapeutics, a Boston-based firm focused on cancer therapies, filed to raise $86 million in an IPO. It has yet to post a revenue, and posted losses of $15.5 million in 2018. Karolinska Development, Versant Venture Management, and 5am Ventures back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “APRE.” Read more.

- Exagen, a Vista, Calif.-based diagnostic blood test maker focused on lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, now plans to raise $50 million in an IPO of 3.3 million shares priced between $14 to $16 apiece. The firm raised $32.4 million in an IPO and loss of $18.5 million in 2018. The New Mexico State Investment Council (31.5%) and Tullis-Dickerson Capital (25.4%) back the firm. backs the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “XGN.” Read more.


- NJR Midstream, a business of New Jersey Resources, agreed to acquire Houston-based Leaf River Energy Center LLC, a Houston-based provider of natural gas storage and pipeline transportation services, from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, for $367.5 million.


- Permira, a London-based private equity firm, is nearing a close of its seventh buyout fund, raising more than €10 billion (about $11 billion). Read more.

- Vista Equity Partners, an Austin, Texas-based private equity and venture capital firm, raised $16 billion for its seventh tech buyout fund. Read more.