Troubles keep mounting for the We Company as Softbank reportedly calls for shelving the IPO – gpgmail


The troubles for We Company and its main business WeWork are mounting as the Financial Times is reporting that the company’s main backer, Softbank, is pushing for the company to put its troubled public offering on hold.

Citing sources familiar with the company and its main investor, the Financial Times said that the cool reception We Company has received from public market investors.

The company needs to raise at least $3 billion in the public offering to trigger a $6 billion in debt financing from the very bankers architecting its IPO. If it fails to cross that $3 billion threshold and not have access to that debt, it would be a significant roadblock to the We Company’s global expansion plans. And those plans are vital to the company’s success, since it’s the growth story that the company is selling to public market investors.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was thinking about reducing the amount it would seek in a public offering below the $20 billion figure that had been previously reported.

The We Company had last raised money at a valuation of over $47 billion and the constant reductions in the company’s value may create a self-fulfilling prophecy that pushes the share price down even further should the company go ahead with a public offering.

The company has even taken steps to roll back some of the more egregious financial arrangements that made investors look at the company askance. It added a woman to its board of directors after much public outcry over the board composition and unwound a nearly $6 million agreement the company had made with its chief executive Adam Neumann over the licensing rights to the brand “We”.

Still, Neumann’s control over the company and the mounting losses of the core business sub-leasing long term commercial rental space to short term tenants have made public investors balky on the We Company’s longterm prospects.


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As college football attendance slumps, new ways to ticket may hold an answer – gpgmail


As college football’s second week draws to a close, one storyline has gotten an unusual amount of attention: the game’s slumping attendance numbers.

While opinions on cause of the 22-year-low in ticket sales vary, technology has been cited as a culprit by many pundits; including Northwestern’s head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who recently blamed the youth and their phones.

While there’s no question that highlight-filled phones create stiff competition for ticket sales, college football’s biggest attendance problem may be that it hasn’t adopted enough technology in its effort to fill seats.  At the start of the 2019 season, however, that appears to be changing, with the majority of top 25 teams moving away from their reliance on 3rd-party distribution via the secondary ticket market and inside season-ticket sales.

As a supplement, they’re introducing more products than ever using the kind of brand-centric, direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing that helped upstarts like Dollar Shave Club, Casper, and Warby Parker take share from some of the most entrenched brands on the planet.

While the ticket category is estimated to be around $20 billion across both the primary and secondary markets, if that number is going to grow over the next decade, direct team and artist brands will likely have to lead the charge by taking a page out of the DTC brands playbook. In addition to leveraging performance-based marketing channels like Facebook, Instagram and Google, schools will also need to move away from a one-size-fits-all message and focus on hyper-targeting consumer with new and more personalized products than ever before.

They’ll also need to make it cheaper.

In a recent poll by Front Office Sports, 58% of respondents cited ticket cost the top reason for not attending a college sporting event. According to TicketIQ, since 2012, the average price of top 25 college football tickets on the secondary market has increased by 24%.

Add to that the cost of parking, gas and food, and the cheapest option to see Saturday football live is a couple hundred dollars…most likely for a game that will be over in the first quarter. For a competitive rivalry, prices can easily be double or triple that. For the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn, the cheapest lower level seat will run $300, while USC’s semi-annual visit to Notre Dame starts at $254.

Image courtesy of Getty Images/Bernard Lang

One play to boost ticket sales is through group ticketing. It’s become a major driver of direct-to-fan marketing for college sports. According to Jake Bye, EVP at IMG Learfield–a leading outsourced ticket sales platform that works with over 40 colleges–group ticket scan rates can be as much as 20% higher than season or single-game tickets.

That may be one of the reasons that IMGL has entered into a national deal with ticket startup Fevo, which launched in 2016 and provides technology to help ticket sellers manage and customize group offers to any affinity group.  Using Fevo, IMGL has rolled out multiple new group products this season with themes including education day, tickets for veterans, youth sports, as well as cheer and dance–all cohorts that can be targeted directly.

Based on a report last year from the Wall Street Journal, ticket products that improve scan rates for purchased tickets may have arrived just in time.

According to the Journal, the difference in announced attendance and scanned tickets was as high as 50% for some major college football programs, and in the range of 10-15% for big-name schools like Alabama and Ohio State. That’s on top of the numbers reported by the NCAA and making headlines, which shows that FBS attendance is down 9% over the last 10 years.

In addition to innovating around products and price, teams looking to evolve their marketplace also must actually have tickets to sell. While that may sound like an obvious statement, it requires a break from the old-school definition of ticket-market success: Selling Out.

2018 was the year the sell-out died for some big name ticket brands like Taylor Swift and the Washington Redskins, and 2019 appears to be the year that college football is following suit. Of the top five teams in the 2019 TicketIQ top 25 only the University of Georgia is completely sold out, meaning that the secondary ticket market is the only place to get tickets.  Even blue chip programs like Notre Dame, Ohio State and the National Champs, Clemson, have unsold single-game tickets available directly through Ticketmaster or Paciolan, their primary ticketing platforms.

Even with single-game tickets to sell, new products in the market, and measurable, ROI-positive marketing channels to tap into, reversing the downward trend for college ticket sales isn’t a sure thing. It will take an entrepreneurial mindset and willingness to test a lot of new strategies, which can be an uphill battle, especially for bureaucratic-heavy state schools.

In a world that values experiences more than things, however, the platform that college sports has to work with is enviable.  Colleges likely have the deepest level of brand identification of any major sports category. Even the most ardent professional sports fans can’t claim to have ever actually been a Yankee or a Laker. For a large percentage of college ticket buyers, however, the opposite is true, and it’s the kind of brand loyalty that can’t be bought. For the 2019 season and beyond, the key to reversing the negative attendance trend will be figuring out how to sell it.


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We Company reportedly mulls slashing its valuation ahead of its initial public offering – gpgmail


The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company formerly known as WeWork is considering slashing its valuation as it looks to woo public market investors.

The company is reportedly considering a valuation of somewhere in the $20 billion range for its initial public offering, a figure that’s far less than the $47 billion valuation it received when it raised its last round of private funding.

Since filing for its initial public offering earlier this summer, questions have swirled around the viability of The We Company (as it’s now known).

According to the Journal, the company’s chief executive officer and co-founder Adam Neumann flew to Tokyo last week to meet with SoftBank Group — one of the company’s largest investors.

Neumann went to see if SoftBank would make another investment into the company — reportedly coming in as an anchor investor for the public offering and taking a big bite of the $3 billion to $4 billion the company was looking to raise. Neumann also reportedly discussed using SoftBank cash to delay the public offering until 2020.

A few billion here and a few billion there, and soon you’re talking about real money.

SoftBank has already balked at putting more cash into the We Company ahead of the public offering, and it’s not clear whether the company will step in as a white knight now.  

What is clear is that We needs money and its long term viability as a business is contingent on the infusion of massive amounts of cash.

Indeed, the company has a $6 billion line of credit at stake, which would be pulled if the public offering underperforms.

If the company fails to hit the $3 billion mark in its public offering, then the credit line promised from the big banks that are underwriting the public offering goes away.  That would be a pretty devastating turn of events for a company that’s currently racking up losses in the billions of dollars.

All of this comes during a shuffling of deck chairs designed to make the company look somewhat better to institutional investors and the public. Stories like this, however, don’t instill confidence that the We Company can avoid the iceberg that is its own business model.


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SoftBank reportedly plans to lend employees as much as $20 billion to invest in its VC fund – gpgmail


SoftBank has a plant to loan up to $20 billion to its employees, including CEO Masayoshi Son, for the purposes of having that capital re-invested in SoftBank’s own Vision venture fund, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. That’s a highly unusual move that could be risky in terms of how much exposure SoftBank Group has on the whole in terms of its startup bets, but the upside is that it can potentially fill out as much as a fifth of its newly announced second Vision Fund’s total target raise of $108 billion from a highly aligned investor pool.

SoftBank revealed its plans for its second Vision Fund last month, including $38 billion from SoftBank itself, as well as commitments from Apple, Microsoft and more. The company also took a similar approach to its original Vision Fund, WSJ reports, with stakes from employees provided with loans totalling $8 billion of that $100 billion commitment.

The potential pay-off is big, provided the fund has some solid winners that achieve liquidation events that provide big returns that employees can then use to pay off the original loans, walking away with profit. That’s definitely a risk, however, especially in the current global economic client. As WSJ notes, the Uber shares that Vision Fund I acquired are now worth less than what SoftBank originally paid for them according to sources, and SoftBank bet WeWork looks poised to be another company whose IPO might not make that much, if any, money for later stage investors.


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