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News 25 | VOX/RECODE: WeWork and Juul show that startup “valuations” can be totally meaningless


It has been an eventful week (to say the least) in the tech industry, particularly for the unicorn class. The collapse of WeWork’s IPO and removal of Adam Neumann as CEO, followed the next day by Juul’s CEO’s ouster, has created a media frenzy about management excesses, valuation metrics and investor/board behavior among these companies.

This is not a new phenomenon, and recent events follow other recent high profile dismissals, court battles and even criminal cases involving unicorns such as Uber, Theranos, Zenefits and SoFi.

In fact, 1,452 CEOs left their jobs in 2018, according to a report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s a 25% increase from the previous year, and the largest wave of departures since the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

On Sept 30, 2019, Vox/Recode ran a story on valuations in Silicon Valley, citing Evan Epstein, Pacifica Global’s Founder & Managing Partner, on how valuation and governance/control issues have evolved in startup land. One take-away is that unicorn employees are the ones that typically get hit the hardest in these situations since their stock options and common shares often get wiped out (while investors and founders may walk away with millions or billions).

The inside-story of Silicon Valley financings with its unique distinctions between preferred and common stockholders, governance and control arrangements, have evolved considerably in the last few years. To read the full article, please go to this story.


Pacifica Global was founded in San Francisco to serve as a leading corporate governance advisory firm. The mission of Pacifica Global is to help public and private companies solve some of their most complex corporate governance conflicts and challenges.