The Little-Known Mutual Fund That Loved WeWork

The disruptive promise of WeWork — the real estate startup founded in New York City by a failed entrepreneur who dreamed of creating a global social movement of millennials looking for cheap office space and free beer pong — captured the wallets of many serious money men before reality brought the company close to ruin this fall.

It wasn’t just SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son, the Japanese venture capitalist who began plunking billions into WeWork in 2017 and famously told CEO Adam Neumann that he wasn’t “crazy enough.” None other than the U.S.’s largest and most prestigious bank, Jamie Dimon’s JPMorgan Chase, wrangled the lead on the IPO and also extended a personal credit line to Neumann of $500 million. Wizened real estate investor Mort Zuckerman was an investor, as were veteran venture capital players Goldman Sachs and Benchmark Capital. Even Harvard’s endowment was onboard.

But there is a little-known player in the saga that sheds a different light on the era that the excesses of WeWork have come to represent: the Hartford Capital Appreciation Fund, a Wayne, Pennsylvania–based $7.1 billion mutual fund loaded with investments in unicorns. These private companies, each valued at more than $1 billion, were placed there by subadviser and Wellington Management senior managing director Michael Carmen, a star VC investor of the mutual fund world.

The Hartford fund’s investment, made in December 2014, came to represent the biggest stake, on a percentage basis, that any mutual fund had in WeWork.

To see what happened, read my story  in Institutional Investor:

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