Mathrani, an Indian-American, joins from US-based real estate management company Brookfield Properties, where he was the CEO of its retail division. He will be part of the board and report to executive chairman Marcelo Claure. He was also the CEO of General Growth Properties for eight years prior to his stint at Brookfield. General Growth Properties, one of the largest shopping mall operators in the US, was acquired by Brookfield in 2018.
“We have led an exhaustive search to identify a collaborative partner who is dedicated to the future success of WeWork. Sandeep is that person. He is the partner of choice with the right skills and experience as we work to execute WeWork’s transformation. He is a proven leader with turnaround expertise in the real estate industry,” said Claure.
Mathrani said WeWork has redefined how people and companies approach work with an innovative platform. He said it has an exceptionally talented team and significant potential if it sticks to its shared values and maintain its members-first focus.
WeWork, now controlled by SoftBank, said the co-CEOs Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham will remain through the transition period. While Minson was the chief operating officer, Gunningham joined as vice-chairman after holding senior positions in Amazon and Apple.
Mathrani comes in after a tumultuous period for the New York-based firm. We-Work was rocked to the core after it withdrew its IPO following a tepid investor response and a crash in its valuation. Subsequently, founder Adam Neumann stepped down, and prime backer SoftBank came in with fresh funds to rescue it from going bust.
The appointment shows that WeWork is trying to position itself as a real estate player focused on leasing out office spaces more than as a technology startup based on the shared economy principle. A lot of investor scepticism during the IPO road show was because of the lack of clarity on what exactly the company’s business model was. People also wondered whether and how the company will turn profitable after guzzling billions of dollars in funding.
The company has plans to achieve profitability on an adjusted ebitda basis by 2021 and positive free cash flow the next year.