In one of the more entertaining examples of a projection disconnected from reality, the WSJ recently published some of the assumptions driving the WeWork model when founder Adam Neumann attempted to raise $70 billion from the Softbank Vision Fund. The ask was pretty astounding to begin with given that the entire Vision Fund was $100 billion. In contrast Uber, which raised the most of any startup ever, had raised approximately $12 billion total.
- 14 million people working in WeWork offices by 2023, which is more than the population of Belgium (in 2018 the company had 420,000). That growth would have required one billion square feet of real estate, which is more than twice the size of the entire Manhattan office market.
- If Amazon.com (WeWork’s largest subtenant at the time) continued along its current growth trajectory, it would have 200,000 desks with WeWork by 2023.
- “WeWork’s main business alone would hit $101 billion in revenue by 2023, up from the $2.3 billion planned in 2018.”
- On a consolidated basis, the projection reached $358 billion in revenue by 2023. “Apple, by comparison, had $266 billion in revenue in 2018.”
In a subsequent meeting, Masa presented an updated 2028 projection: 100 million members and $500 billion in revenue. “The value of the entire U.S. stock market was about $30 trillion. But Mr. Son had big plans: WeWork would be worth $10 trillion by 2028.”
When you are preparing a financial projection, it is important to sanity check your math against real world limitations.