WeWork has been throwing 'lit' boat parties across the US for years, headlined by stars like Fat Joe and Fetty Wap. It just canceled ticket sales for the next one.
- WeWork was known for its party culture under former CEO Adam Neumann.
- Since 2016, the company has been throwing a series of boat parties in different cities across North America. The events, dubbed Rock the Boat, are open to members and the public and have been headlined by the likes of Fat Joe and Fetty Wap.
- The last boat party of 2019 was scheduled to be held in Miami in November, but ticket sales have been canceled. The event page was accepting credit card payments up until October 31; it has since been deactivated.
- Under its two new co-CEOs, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, WeWork has seen a recent and abrupt shift to a more controlled culture and spending cuts.
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That too now appears to have fallen by the wayside.
The last boat party of 2019 was scheduled to be held in Miami in November, but ticket sales have now been canceled. The event page was accepting credit card payments up until October 31; it has since been deactivated.
WeWork's decision to abruptly cancel ticket sales for its Miami event comes as the company looks to cut costs, salvage its reputation and focus on core operations. WeWork has also started shutting down non-core businesses like WeGrow, the educational arm overseen by Rebekah Neumann, and ousted several members of Adam Neumann's inner circle.
A representative for WeWork declined Business Insider's requests for comment.
Rock the boat Chicago included three hours of cruising around Lake Michigan and an open bar
According to videos posted on Vimeo, WeWork's Rock the Boat series has been held in locations that include New York, Chicago, Toronto, Boston, and Austin.Business Insider spoke to two people - one of whom attended as a guest, one of whom attended as a WeWork member - who went to Rock the Boat parties in 2019. One described the San Francisco party as "lit."
While many of the events pages are no longer active, an old event page on event-marketing platform Splash indicates that tickets for the Chicago party in September 2018 ranged from $20 to $40. That party touted a cruise on Lake Michigan with "six hundred of the city's most influential and inspiring professionals."
Photos show the party was held on a boat called the Spirit of Chicago, which is operated by Entertainment Cruises, a Hornblower Holdings company. According to its floor plans, it has a maximum capacity of 578 people.
The party started at 6:30 p.m., with a three-hour cruise that returned to shore by 10 p.m. It promised live music, "giant Jenga," and, like many WeWork events, a lot of alcohol - in this case, an open bar and "another cocktail, on us, for the afterparty."
"It was a fun time," a 24-year-old former WeWork member who attended the party told Business Insider. "Alcohol was definitely flowing." She noted that the party featured a different DJ on all three floors.
The afterparty's promised location was at Rockit Bar & Grill in River North, one of Chicago's most popular neighborhoods for nightlife. The bar shuttered in July 2019, but was previously known for its clubby atmosphere and live music. Business Insider reached out to the owner of the now-defunct bar to learn more about the afterparty but did not get a reply.
Fetty Wap, Fat Joe, and boats that can fit up to 1,200 people
Several of the event pages promised a "surprise performance" onboard. In New York's Rock the Boat parties in 2018 and 2019, that surprise performance came in the shape of Fetty Wap and Fat Joe, respectively.
A Vimeo page with events footage has recently been made private, but Business Insider was able to view the videos while they were public. For the most part, they featured short videos of young professionals holding drinks and dancing. The video of the New York City event in 2018, however, shows rapper Fetty Wap performing for a packed dance floor with flashing, club-like lighting and "Rock the Boat" branded beach balls being tossed around.
Business Insider reached out to the video owner on Vimeo to learn more about the video series but did not get a reply.
Clips of the 2018 NYC event show that it was held on a boat called Hornblower Infinity, which is also operated by Hornblower Cruises and Events. The company's website indicates that the boat has a max capacity of 1,200 guests in a cocktail setting. Business Insider reached out to Hornblower to find out about their rental rates for both the NYC and Chicago events. Hornblower did not comment, citing internal privacy policies.
Business Insider reached out to Fat Joe's agent about the 2019 performance, who said that the rapper's going rate for a one-hour performance for roughly 500 people on a sunset cruise in New York in July is upwards of $50,000. Fetty Wap's agent did not immediately reply to Business Insider's request for comment on his rates.
Ticket sales for the last boat party of 2019, which was set to take place in Miami in November, were recently shut down
According to various posts across Facebook, Instagram, and Vimeo, WeWork's Rock the Boat lineup for 2019 included New York City, Toronto, Boston, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco, and, according to WeWork's event page on Splash, Miami.
Instagram posts show that a Rock the Boat party was held in Chicago in September. The timing coincides roughly with WeWork's slashing of Adam Neumann's voting power from 20 votes per share to 10 votes per share. Less than two weeks later, he stepped down as CEO.
The final party of the year - Miami - was to take place on Thursday, November 14. According to the event page, the location had yet to be determined. However, on October 31, after Business Insider spoke with a WeWork representative, ticket sales were officially closed; on November 4, the website was deactivated.
WeWork's new leaders plan to cut back on the company's spending
WeWork's decision to abruptly cancel ticket sales for its Miami event comes as the company looks to cut costs under its new co-CEOs, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham. That is largely manifesting as staff cuts, as Business Insider has previously reported.
On October 3, Business Insider's Becky Peterson and Meghan Morris reported that WeWork is planning to lay off between 10 and 25% of its workforce, resulting in 1,000 to 3,000 people out of their staff of 12,500. On October 23, WeWork's new chairman, Marcelo Claure, told employees at an all-hands meeting that the new leadership would be committed to "fast" and "transparent" job cuts. And, as Morris previously reported, WeWork has also looked into selling the company's corporate jet.
Claure is a SoftBank executive. On October 22, SoftBank announced that it would provide WeWork with $5 billion in new financing, in addition to a $3 billion stock buy-back and an accelerated pre-planned $1.5 billion investment.
Have you ever attended, hosted, or been involved with a Rock the Boat event, or a similar party hosted by WeWork? If you have a story to share, contact these reporters at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.