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WeWork, the formerly high-flying shared office space company that was once among the world’s most valuable startups, filed for bankruptcy on Monday after years of declining financial performance. 

“To successfully achieve its goals, WeWork Inc. and certain of its entities filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and intend to file recognition proceedings in Canada under Part IV of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (the “CCAA Recognition Proceedings”),” the company said in a statement. “WeWork’s locations outside of the U.S. and Canada are not part of this process. WeWork’s franchisees around the world are similarly not affected by these proceedings.”

WeWork’s collapse marks a significant decline for a company that was valued at $47 billion in early 2019 after receiving substantial venture capital funding from Japan’s Softbank, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and other well-known investors. However, over time, its operating expenses increased, and the company relied on repeated cash infusions from private investors.

WeWork leases buildings and divides them into office spaces to sublet to its members, which include small businesses, startups, and freelancers who want to avoid paying for permanent office space. The company faced challenges from the onset because millions of Americans transitioned to remote work and no longer needed office space during mandatory COVID lockdowns.

WeWork stated in its bankruptcy filing announcement that its office spaces are still “open and operational.” The company is requesting the ability to terminate certain leases, primarily non-operational locations, with advanced notice provided to all affected members.

In August, WeWork issued a warning that it might not be able to survive the next year due to factors such as financial losses and a need for cash. The company also highlighted high turnover rates among its members. 

Former WeWork founder and CEO Adam Neumann launched the company in April 2011 but was ousted in September 2019. 

WeWork’s decline began in late 2019 when the company planned to go public but ultimately decided against it after revealing larger-than-projected losses. In November 2019, the company laid off 2,400 employees, which accounted for nearly 20% of its workforce. WeWork eventually went public in 2021.

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