WeWork, the real estate startup that renovates office spaces in the style of a Silicon Valley set and then sublets them to other companies, filed papers to go public on Wednesday. The company has raised more than $12 billion since its founding nine years ago and is projected to be valued as high as $47 billion in its public offering. (It’s also had losses of $2.9 billion over the past three years, and it lost $690 million in the first half of 2019 alone.)
Like many companies in the technology and gig-economy realms, there is a vast amount of daylight between what WeWork actually does and how it describes its purpose in its mission statement. “We are a community company committed to maximum global impact,” the company’s prospectus reads. “Our mission is to elevate the world’s consciousness.” Rent some heavily marked-up desk space, align your chakra.
But this is nothing new. Silicon Valley executives are old hands at describing a lofty purpose that doesn’t quite line up with the work they do. Google is probably the crowning example. Its motto was once “Don’t be evil,” helping to instill trust in billions of users. (By 2015, the company ditched the motto for a call to “do the right thing.”)
Can you match the mission statement to the company? Test your knowledge in this quiz.
1. “We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.”
2. “Make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive.”
3. “Give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
4. “Be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”
5. “Our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.”
6. “Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. “
7. “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
8. “Our mission is to help our users, the people doing the hard work on complex, real-world problems.”