The We Company, the American startup behind WeWork and being dubbed as the “next Alibaba,” has filed confidential paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public at an unspecified time this year.

"I do not have an exact date or timeline to share with you, but I wanted you to know first that this process has started," said Adam Neumann, one of the two co-founders, in an email to employees.

A confidential filing process lets a company privately file its registration statement (also known as an S-1) with the SEC for review. It allows a company to withhold sensitive information from competitors, customers and investors until it gets closer to going public.

The We Company is the latest unicorn company to announce an IPO. It follows Lyft, Pinterest, and Zoom, which have already debuted on Wall Street. Uber and Slack are expected to do so in the next few months.

The coworking or shared office space company operates a global network of coworking spaces. Founded in 2010, The We Company provides shared workspaces for technology startup subculture communities, and services for startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses and even large enterprises.

It was founded as WeWork by Neumann and Miguel McKelvey. Israeli-born Neumann grew up in a kibbutz, while McKelvey (an American) grew up in a commune.

As of January, The We Company had a valuation of $47 billion and managed 10,000,000 square feet (930,000 square meters) of office space worldwide. It operates in 100 cities in 27 countries, and had more than 400,000 members in 2018, up from 186,000 members in 2017.

Large companies such as Microsoft and Bank of America comprise a significant portion of its memberships.

It’s one of the most valuable privately-held companies in the U.S., and has raised billions of dollars in funding. Its major investor is Japanese multinational holding conglomerate Softbank Group Corporation which invested $3 billion in the startup in November 2018.

wework People walk out of the co-working space WeWork in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn on March 26, 2019 in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

"This company is ready to become next Alibaba," boasted Softbank CEO and founder Masayoshi Son.

The We Company is badly in need of more financing, however, having lost $1.9 billion on revenue of $1.8 billion in 2018. The revenue was double that of 2017.

It’s also expanding far beyond its original business of providing coworking spaces. It’s ventured into co-living (WeLive), health and wellness (WeRise) and education (WeGrow). Earlier this month, The We Company bought Managed by Q, an office-services management startup for around $250 million.

Its largest acquisition thus far is Naked Hub, a Chinese coworking startup it acquired for about $400 million in April 2018.