Sandeep Mathrani was supposed to be WeWork’s savior.
A real estate executive, he became the chief executive of the troubled office space company in 2020 after a failed initial public offering pushed it to the brink of collapse. He instilled discipline and order on a business that had grown fast and chaotically under its co-founder Adam Neumann.
Instead of building a company that would “elevate the world’s consciousness” as Mr. Neumann had wanted, Mr. Mathrani focused on the staid details of running a real estate company. He steered WeWork through the pandemic, got its landlords to accept less rent, took the company public and oversaw a financial restructuring, completed last month, that cut the company’s debt.
But just weeks after the restructuring, the company said on May 16 that Mr. Mathrani would step down, and that no permanent successor was lined up. Wall Street analysts who had recently met with him were stunned — one analyst wrote in a research note that the executive was “abandoning ship.” A couple of weeks later, WeWork’s chief financial officer, who had joined last June, departed, too.
The turmoil raises fresh questions about the viability of WeWork, which has spent billions of dollars building a business that has never come close to breaking even — and must now compete with the flood of cheap office deals that have become available since working from home shrank demand for commercial real estate.