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Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Images/Getty Images

There is lots of WeWork IPO buzz after the WSJ reported that the company may go public at a valuation at less than half its most recent private mark of $47 billion.

Driving the news: It also revealed that CEO Adam Neumann recently met in Tokyo with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son to discuss either a cornerstone IPO investment or a private capital infusion that would allow WeWork to delay its IPO until next year.

Yes, but don't bet on the delay. WeWork needs to go public in 2019 in order to receive a $6 billion credit facility, and multiple sources tell me that Neumann is willing to accept a major equity valuation slash.

    • Caveat: If Masa pulls up the Brink's truck — perhaps offering to supplant the proposed IPO proceeds and debt proceeds — then WeWork's calculus changes significantly. Particularly given that it's done early employee tenders already.

The big picture: On the valuation, it's important to remember that WeWork was valued at only $21 billion when it raised its Series G funding in mid-2017. That was the round led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

  • The bump to $47 billion came later from SoftBank Group (not from its Vision Fund), via a convoluted/downsized process in which the Japanese giant seemed to pay up for taking up so much of WeWork's time.
  • And, yes, there are some market sources who believe the $47 billion was, in at least a small part, to help boost fundraising for Vision Fund II.

What to watch: We still don't know when the IPO road-show kicks off. But, when it does, all eyes will be on Neumann. Those close to the process believe that there is lots of buy-side interest in the company, but more than a few outstanding questions about its leader. His performance in those hotel ballrooms could be worth billions.

Go deeper

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."

Scoop: Conservative group puts $700k behind Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley explains his objection to certifying the 2020 election results hours after the U.S. Capitol siege. Photo: Congress.gov via Getty Images

A Republican group is raising and spending huge amounts of money defending Sen. Josh Hawley after he was ostracized for early January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: The Senate Conservatives Fund is plugging Hawley's ideological bona fides and backfilling lost corporate cash with needed political and financial support, helping inoculate him as he weighs reelection or a possible presidential campaign in 2024.