Is Upwork The Next Wework? by@nebojsa.todorovic

Is Upwork The Next Wework?

Nebojsa "Nesha" Todorovic HackerNoon profile picture

Nebojsa "Nesha" Todorovic

Writer GoLancer, "Noonies2020" Award Winner

What do Upwork and Wework have in common?

I mean, other than the obvious. A catchy, but a potentially misleading word - work - they both use as a part of their brand names. 

Well, you’d be surprised. 

Did you know that Upwork is a featured, and proud Wework’s partner? I didn’t. Upwork bragged about it on their Facebook page.


Screenshot Upwork Facebook

This seemed like the most natural and logical partnership. Both Upwork and Wework are all about the remote work culture and business. Wework even offered credits for new Upwork users. I’m not sure if this is still the thing. 


Screenshot Wework

Back then, it felt good to be a friend of a unicorn startup. Now, things have changed. If you want your business to work, it’s better not to be associated with Wework. 

But, water under the bridge, let’s see if Wework’s present can help us predict Upwork’s future. 

Two Unicorns On A Road of Thorns

I’m fully aware that in this story about Upwork and Wework, I shouldn’t mix apple with oranges. After a successful IPO, Upwork is now a public company. Wework wasn’t that lucky. Why? What went wrong with Wework’s IPO?

Well, long Wall Street story short, Wework’s plan to go public raised quite a few investors’ eyebrows. That’s the thing with any IPO. You’re free to dream IPO dreams, but if potential investors say no-no, then you’re no-go

The huge STOP sign actually did Wework a favor. A piece of Yahoo Finance news sums it up the best:

Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz’s chief economic adviser, says a startup has to ensure three key things: it can handle growth, it has the right governance system in place and it can address the “inevitable potholes” that occur with being a startup.
“WeWork failed on all three of these,” he said. “All the strength of WeWork turned into weakness, including the founder-based model.”

The investors are saved by the opening bell that never rang at the stock market for Wework. It looks like a clear win-win. The investors didn’t lose their money. Wework avoided further embarrassment. Case closed!

Well, not exactly. 

What’s the point of a successful IPO, if a newbie public company is going to perform miserably at the stock markets in no time? Isn’t that the case with Upwork?

Now, you may say that I’m exaggerating with no shame and reason. But, here’s the current Upwork’s NASDAQ situation:


You can say that I don’t know a thing about finances and stock markets. I don’t mind. That’s true. But, just for a moment, try walking in one of Upwork investor’s shoes. How would you feel?

Upwork just celebrated its first birthday as a public company with the stock prices cut in half, give it or take. Do you still think that Upwork’s public company adventure was a good idea?

The Curious Cases of Adam Neumann and Stephane Kasriel

What to say about - now a former Wework CEO - Adam Neumann that hasn’t been said already? This guy was Livin’ La Vida Loca. I wish I were one of his top managers or at least an employee back in the Wework’s “golden days.” 

If I were Leonardo DiCaprio, I would be taking notes about the next Wolf of Wall Street movie, like yesterday. 

More than two thousand Weworkers will have to look for new work somewhere else. What’s going to happen to Neumann? Is he working on a new CV? That’s not very likely, at least according to The Guardian:

Neumann, the former CEO, was set to walk away with a $1.7bn golden parachute, selling off up to $970m in company stock, netting $185m in nebulous consulting fees and a $500m credit line to cover personal debts.

With a parachute that big and made of gold (literally) soft landing is 100% guaranteed. 

What’s happening with Upwork’s CEO?

To the best of my knowledge, the (parachute) with a Stephane Kasriel’s name on it is sitting in some remote corner and collecting dust. On the other hand, he’s been quite busy selling his stocks. I dare to say, he’s been restless throughout the whole year. Here’s an interesting overview of his stock trades, courtesy of wallmine:


Screenshot wallmine

Wow! How much is that? Wait, I need to use a calculator. We’re talking about 700K stocks sold over a six months period. 

In August, I tried to pinpoint two of his biggest transactions. Why? Well, check out the following illustration and try to figure it out yourself.


Kudos to Mr. Kasriel for choosing the perfect moments when to act. I don’t even dare to imply something here. He was just lucky of being able to sell his stocks before they lost their value even further. 

Did he have to do it? It just can’t be about the money. According to wallmine, “he makes $9,715,510 as President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director at Upwork.” 

The estimated Net Worth of Stephane Kasriel is at least $12.7 Million dollars as of 19 November 2019.

It’s not like he’s in dire straits or something. Right? Maybe I’m just being mean or maybe he’s selling Upwork stocks while they’re still worth something. I leave it up to you to decide. 

On average, Stephane trades about 140,000 units every 39 days since 2019. As of 19 November 2019 he still owns at least 265,181 units of Upwork stock. 

Holy cow! That’s almost 1M stocks! Forget about me saying that I wanted to be a Wework manager or employee. I wish I could be Stephane Kasriel only for a day. I would sell all the remaining stocks in a blink of an eye. Buying a private tropical island sounds like a good idea to me. 

It’s good to be an Upwork king, isn’t it?


So, Is Upwork The Next Wework?

Well, if you’re asking for my personal opinion, Upwork is a Wework that somehow managed to hit the stock market. Let me put it this way:

Wework + IPO = Upwork

You know how they say, when corporate elephants play football, it is the grass that suffers. In this case, Wework’s employees and Upwork’s freelancers. A lot of them have already received or will receive a “Dear John” letter. Let’s face it. Both Wework and Upwork are just too big to fail. 

What can we do? Well, we put all of our hopes in Leonardo DiCaprio. Dear Leo, avenge us all in your next movie. Only two questions remaining. 

Who’s going to portray Adam Neumann? I’m thinking about Dr. Manhattan - Billy Crudup, with longer hair, of course. What about Stephane Kasriel? How about Kevin Spacey? 

Eventually, what about me? Well, if I manage to lose a lot of weight, Vin Diesel will be an excellent choice. 

What would be the most appropriate title for this hypothetical movie? Any ideas?