WeWork Co-Founder Adam Neumann Is Working On A New Start-Up
He led an investment round for a company called Alfred in 2020.
WeWork launched in 2010 with its flagship business: swanky co-working spaces boasting stylish furniture, beer on tap, and ping pong tables. The shared offices attracted a certain kind of millennial worker — those who were perhaps building their own tech startups or seeking networking opportunities in fast-growing industries — and WeWork quickly took off. The company spread around world, at one point garnering a multi-billion dollar valuation. But then it all came crashing down. Apple TV+’s new drama WeCrashed explores WeWork’s rise and fall — as well as the ousting of its co-founder, Adam Neumann, in 2019. But nearly three years later, what is Adam Neumann doing now?
First, some background. Neumann was born in Israel in 1979. His parents divorced when he was seven years old, and he spent time in a communal kibbutz environment as a child. He has severe dyslexia and didn’t learn to read or write until the third grade; he later attended Baruch College in New York City after moving to the U.S. with his sister in 2001. His first forays into entrepreneurialism failed to take off (he tried making shoes with collapsible high heels and knee pads for babies), but when he co-founded WeWork with Miquel McKelvey, he struck gold.
During Neumann’s tenure at WeWork, employees allege that he created a troubling culture, and his financial decisions almost always put the company in jeopardy. (A small taste of Neumann’s now-legendary behavior at WeWork can be found in a New York Times report: “Mr. Neumann would convince employees to take shots of pricey Don Julio tequila, work 20-hour days, attend 2 a.m. meetings. He’d convince them to smoke marijuana at work, dance to Journey around a fire in the woods on weekend excursions, smoke more pot, drink more tequila.”) When the company’s finances were made public in advance of WeWork’s planned IPO in 2019, investors and journalists became aware for the first time just how much money the company was hemorrhaging — and how many questionable decisions Neumann had made. Neumann was asked to step down as CEO and hasn’t returned to the company since.
But one thing hasn’t changed since his days at the helm of the company: Neumann is still really, really rich. He received a $1.7 billion payout when he left WeWork, and ongoing negotiations with the company’s majority investor SoftBank secured him another $50 million payment in February 2021. That’s not to mention the 10% of WeWork stock that he still owns, which was worth about $1 billion when the company went public in October 2021 and is worth about half that now, per the Financial Times.
Over the past couple of years, Neumann has been selling multiple pieces of real estate for multi-millions and liquidating his many homes around the country; the latest was in Corte Madera in 2021, and it went for $22.4 million. He and his wife, Rebekah Paltrow Neumann, spent some time in Israel after WeWork’s highly publicized implosion, but returned to the U.S. in 2020. Today, it’s believed they are living in New York City at either their Hamptons or Greenwich Village home.
In the summer of 2020, Neumann acquired the rights to the curriculum developed for WeWork’s educational branch WeGrow. He and Rebekah intended to start a new school, but the project has since stalled. In October 2020, Neumann led an investment round for a new startup called Alfred, which CNN describes as “a startup that works with residential buildings to provide concierge-like services for residents.”
Now, Neumann is getting into real estate once again. In February 2022, he paid $17 million for a ground-floor retail space in an apartment building in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As he told the Financial Times in March, he’s not ready to reveal his plans for the space yet, but he has his eye on other major cities like Nashville, Atlanta, Austin, and Miami, where he sees a “tremendous” opportunity for business. It appears he’s interested in creating something similar to WeLive, which created dorms for working professionals. “It felt like there’s so much more that could be done to make these tenants’ lives better,” he said. “It felt like frankly, there’s room for more community.”
Neumann is currently operating out of his own family office located in Greenwich Village. It’s a one-floor headquarters that hosts several people who Neumann said either work directly for him or work for start-ups he has invested in. (Due to a non-compete clause with WeWork, he cannot open another office co-working space.) When asked by Financial Times if he wanted to be invited back to WeWork, Neumann said, “I don’t want to make any statements that affect it in any way. I also don’t want to be a backseat driver.”
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