Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

This week brought news from WeWork, the co-working unicorn, that it has decided to downgrade its main business to a mere subsidiary. WeWork has a famously complex corporate structure, but lift your eyes above the newly demoted WeWork to the very apex and behold — The We. (I am not making this up.)

The big picture: WeWork is not the only company to demote its flagship brand and name the holding company something silly, or worse.

  • Google is now just one part of a company called Alphabet.
  • Snapchat is just one of the brands operated by Snap.
  • Aol and Yahoo both found themselves part of something called Oath, before Oath was renamed Verizon Media Group.
  • And who can forget the Tribune Company, named after the 170-year-old Chicago Tribune newspaper, renaming itself Tronc.

Historically, companies were proud to name themselves after brands they had managed to elevate to a place of global name recognition. If you had a weird non-brand name like Gulf & Western or MacAndrews & Forbes, that was a sign that you were mostly in the business of buying and selling companies — that ultimately you weren't committed to your brands.

  • The new un-brands aren't conglomerateurs; neither are they corporate raiders. They're just distancing their investor-facing corporate selves from their consumer-facing identities.
  • There are many reasons for doing such a thing, but it does tend to look as though the CEO is a bit ashamed of the main product. Google, Snapchat, Yahoo and Tribune all have connotations of being either problematic or outdated.

The bottom line: This kind of move is generally presented as a way of telegraphing ambitions much greater than owning a single consumer-facing brand, no matter how successful that product might be. But it often comes across as a signifier of ambivalence and shame. In some ways, it's the modern-day equivalent of the rentier distancing himself from his coal mines.

Go deeper: How to name your startup

Go deeper

Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 31,478,387 — Total deaths: 968,726 Total recoveries: 21,622,862Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 6,895,685 — Total deaths: 200,768 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: The U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths — The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

Trump pushes to expand ban against anti-racism training to federal contractors

Trump speaking at Moon Township, Penns., on Sept. 22. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced late Tuesday that the White House attempt to halt federal agencies' anti-racism training would be expanded to block federal contractors from "promoting radical ideologies that divide Americans by race or sex."

Why it matters: The executive order appears to give the government the ability to cancel contracts if anti-racist or diversity trainings focused on sexual identity or gender are organized. The memo applies to executive departments and agencies, the U.S. military, federal contractors and federal grant recipients.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

GoodRx prices IPO at $33 per share, valued at $12.7 billion

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

GoodRx, a price comparison app for prescription drugs at local pharmacies, on Tuesday night raised $1.14 billion in its IPO, Axios has learned.

By the numbers: GoodRx priced its shares at $33 a piece, above its $24-$28 per share offering range, which will give it an initial market cap of around $12.7 billion.

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