John Malone says he doesn't understand investing in 'deep-loss businesses' like WeWork and Uber

Key Points
  • "He flings these numbers around awful easy. He's got a balance sheet no one can understand," Malone says.
  • WeWork, the office-sharing start-up, pulled its IPO filing in September and is laying off 2,400 employees as it tries to cut costs.
  • "I look at each one of these deep-loss businesses ... you've got to have to have an argument that the scale will improve the marginal economics," Malone says.
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Watch CNBC's full interview with Liberty Media Chairman John Malone

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone took issue with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son's investment approach in light of the botched WeWork IPO.

"He flings these numbers around awful easy. He's got a balance sheet no one can understand," Malone told CNBC's David Faber in an exclusive interview Thursday.

WeWork pulled its IPO filing in September after investors balked at its mounting losses and unusual corporate governance structure. The scrutiny forced WeWork founder Adam Neumann to step down as CEO. The office-sharing start-up is laying off 2,400 employees as it tries to cut costs and right-size the business.

Son initially valued WeWork at $47 billion, a number public market investors viewed as nearly four times too high.

"I look at each one of these deep-loss businesses ... you've got to have to have an argument that the scale will improve the marginal economics," Malone said.

WeWork continues to bleed cash, reporting $1.25 billion in losses in the third quarter, up more than 150% from the same period last year. The company was poised to run out of money in a matter of weeks, but secured an 11th-hour bailout deal from SoftBank.

"[Masa's] had some home-runs no question. He took some big rides and some of them are not performing for him at the moment, but those are cycles," Malone said.

Malone is also not a fan of Uber's business model.

"I never quite understood Uber and I never quite understood why Dara took the job," Malone said of Dara Khosrowshahi, who succeeded CEO Travis Kalanick in 2017 following a series of scandals. "Right now in a world where you have three or four competitors in a metro area and drivers are working for all of them, I don't see where scale changes the economics."

Uber shares have fallen about 35% since its IPO in May.