WeWork lost $1.9 billion last year, but it's considering going public

How does WeWork work, and why it is losing money
How does WeWork work, and why it is losing money

The We Company, parent company of WeWork, is the latest in a string of richly valued start-ups set to go public this year. But though it was recently valued at $47 billion, it's far from turning a profit. Instead, it's hemorrhaging cash.

WeWork lost $1.9 billion last year on $1.8 billion in revenue, as it focused on rapid growth. Things improved in the first quarter of 2019, but only slightly: The company says it lost $264 million on $728 million in revenue during the quarter.

The company's core business revolves around renting out co-working spaces to everyone from startups and freelancers to large enterprises. Now, WeWork says it's in 485 locations, and has over 400,000 members, up from 186,000 in 2017. the company's CFO told CNBC that investors should look at WeWork's losses as "investments" that will lead to more cash flow.

However, Lyft and Uber's recent IPO stumbles could bode poorly for WeWork's chances of a successful debut, as investors seem wary about taking a bet on companies that lack a clear path to profitability.

Correction: WeWork says it has 485 locations as of the end of Q1 2019.