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CFO of embattled WeWork is stepping down 'for personal reasons' after just six months in the job

WeWork’s chief financial officer is stepping down ‘for personal reasons’ just six months after she took the post.

The troubled co-working company announced the resignation of Kimberly Ross, who was named CFO in March, in a press release on Wednesday.  

Benjamin Dunham, who has served as CFO of WeWork Americas for the past two years, will take over from Ross beginning October 1, the company said. 

Ross’ exit comes as WeWork faces a tough business environment due to the coronavirus pandemic as a rush to work-from-home arrangements has weighed heavily on the company by reducing occupancy and increasing operating costs.  

Estimates of its valuation dropped from $47billion or more in August 2019 to just $2.9billion this spring. 

The financial hardships coincided with several significant leadership shakeups in the last year – including the departures of WeWork’s co-founders, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey. 

Neumann stepped down last fall amid rumors that he was being pushed out, and McKelvey followed his lead in June.  

WeWork's chief financial officer Kimberly Ross is stepping down for 'personal reasons' just six months after she took the post

WeWork’s chief financial officer Kimberly Ross is stepping down for ‘personal reasons’ just six months after she took the post

WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani shared his excitement at Dunham’s promotion in Wednesday’s press release.  

‘I am grateful to have Ben join the executive team at WeWork, continuing to build on the strong foundation laid by Kimberly,’ Mathrani said. 

‘With Ben’s previous experience leading global companies and his current role as CFO of WeWork Americas, I feel confident that he has the experience, leadership capabilities and vision to help WeWork achieve long-term success, streamline our expenses and ultimately achieve our financial goals.’ 

Ross, who previously served as CFO at Baker Hughes and at makeup company Avon, is expected to remain with the company through the end of October to facilitate the transition.   

‘It’s a momentous time to be at WeWork, as the value of flexible space has never been stronger,’ Dunham said in the release. 

‘With the hard work that our company has undertaken over the past year, we are well on the path to profitability and I look forward to partnering with Sandeep and the leadership team to achieve our vision.’  

Dunham’s sunny outlook on the future of WeWork, majority owned by SoftBank Group Corp, bears striking contrast to the tumult the company has endured over the past couple years.  

Ross' exit comes as WeWork, majority owned by SoftBank Group Corp, faces a tough business environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a rush to work-from-home arrangements has weighed heavily on the company by reducing occupancy and increasing operating costs

Ross’ exit comes as WeWork, majority owned by SoftBank Group Corp, faces a tough business environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a rush to work-from-home arrangements has weighed heavily on the company by reducing occupancy and increasing operating costs

At the height of its success, WeWork was valued at $47billion before it announced plans for an initial public offering in August 2019. 

But the company was forced to abandon the IPO the following month as investors questioned big losses, whether its business model was sustainable, and the way it was run by its co-founder Neumann. 

In October 2019 WeWork’s board of directors accepted a takeover bid from SoftBank, handing control of the office-sharing startup to the Japanese firm.   

Under the deal with SoftBank, which valued WeWork at $8billion, Neumann was reportedly paid close to $1.7billion to step down from the board and sever most of his ties from the company.  

Artie Minson, previously CFO and president, Sebastian Gunningham, previously vice chairman, were tapped to serve as co-CEOs following Neumann’s departure, before Mathrani was hired on in February 2020.  Minson and Gunningham have since left the company. 

In May, Neumann sued SoftBank for walking away from a $3billion bailout it offered under its rescue package months earlier. 

In April, SoftBank said it would not press ahead with the bailout tender offer because several pre-conditions had not been met. 

WeWork’s occupancy rates have plummeted amid the COVID-19 pandemic – forcing the company to reduce its workforce by more than 8,000 people, renegotiate leases and sell off assets to reduce its cash burn and shed costs, the Financial Times reported in July.   

WeWork Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure told the outlet that the company was on course to have positive cash flow in 2021 – a year earlier than a target the company set in February.

Claure said WeWork has seen strong demand for its office spaces since the start of the pandemic as companies look for more flexible working models.  

‘Everybody thought WeWork was mission impossible,’ Claure, who is also a SoftBank executive, said. 

‘And now, a year from now, you are going to see WeWork to basically be a profitable venture with an incredible diversity of assets.’

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