NEW YORK: The We Company, parent of money-losing shared office provider WeWork, which last year yanked plans to go public after harsh criticism over its business model and erratic management, is dropping the "we" moniker to revert to its better-known name, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
Restoration of WeWork as the official name is the most symbolic effort to date by management installed last year by majority owner SoftBank Group Corp to focus on its core office-sharing business.
The "we" brand was introduced in January 2019 by WeWork's co-founder, Adam Neumann, with the aim of broadening the shared office space business to a lifestyle company.
Neumann was widely criticised when the company disclosed he had trademarked the brand and received a US$5.9 million payment from WeWork for its use.
Neumann, who was replaced as chief executive and stepped off the WeWork board last year after the company abandoned plans to go public, later said he would return the money.
Sandeep Mathrani, the new CEO, said in the memo announcing the name change that the move is another step in returning the company to WeWork's office-sharing roots.
"We want to be strategic. We want to be innovative. We want to be impactful. We want to be WeWork," Mathrani wrote.
"We are officially restoring our company name from The We Company to WeWork," the memo said.
WeWork, which has been slammed by the coronavirus-induced recession along with many other businesses, has said it will become profitable by the end of 2021.
The company hopes to benefit from corporations that are reducing their real estate footprint because of the pandemic and have looked to working from home and greater use of flexible workspace, which WeWork can provide with its global footprint.
Since Neumann's exit Mathrani has hired new management and cut headcount in an effort to steer the company to profitability.
WeWork in August said it had slashed its cash burn rate to US$482 million in the second quarter, or almost in half from the end of 2019. The company also said it had obtained a US$1.1 billion commitment in new financing from SoftBank.
WeWork withdrew its public offering in September 2019 that looked to value the company at US$47 billion and make it one of the year's hottest IPOs.
WeWork soon entered a tailspin as its valuation fell to less than US$8 billion. After a management shake-up it remains enmeshed in lawsuits over a US$3 billion tender offer to existing shareholders.
(Reporting by Herbert Lash in New York; Additional reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)