Here’s What Happened To WeWork Co-Founder Miguel McKelvey After The Company’s Downfall
He stayed on staff for nine months after fellow co-founder Adam Neumann was ousted as CEO.
The public image of WeWork is most closely associated with Adam Neumann, its reckless and charismatic co-founder, and his wife Rebekah, a yoga instructor slash actor credited with bringing a New Age, “woo woo” energy to the company. But there was a third party involved in the creation of the real estate co-working start-up: co-founder Miguel McKelvey, who was the design expert of the operation.
McKelvey’s background is in architecture: He majored in it at the University of Oregon and was working at a Brooklyn-based architecture firm when he met Neumann at a party in the late 2000s. The two founded WeWork together in 2010, with McKelvey serving as the chief culture officer in addition to directing construction, architecture, and web design. As the company grew, Neumann gravitated toward the spotlight while McKelvey worked behind the scenes. “As Miguel focused on more culture things, Adam focused on, frankly, the things that were driving headlines,” a former executive who asked to remain anonymous told Forbes. “The value was created in Adam’s ability to raise money from [WeWork investor Masayoshi Son], which Miguel was not involved in directly.”
When WeWork attempted to go public in late 2019, numerous questions arose about both the company’s financial sustainability and Neumann’s leadership. Employees alleged that he frequently hotboxed WeWork’s company jet, showed up to meetings high or hungover, and made generally bizarre statements about expanding WeWork to other planets. The working environment was described as a toxic and “entitled, frat boy culture.” Those reports, coupled with WeWork’s financial troubles, led investors to begin pulling out, tanking the company’s valuation from $47 billion to around $9 billion and leaving it in crisis.
Much of the fallout was focused on Neumann, who stepped down from his position as CEO after facing pressure from WeWork’s board of investors and accepting a $1.7 billion separation agreement. McKelvey, on the other hand, managed to stay out of the headlines during the controversy. After Softbank, a Japanese technology investment fund headed by one of Neumann’s biggest allies and investors, took control of the company, McKelvey remained on staff for another nine months to assist with the transition. He officially left WeWork in June 2020, making him one of the last former executives to exit.
McKelvey has kept a low-profile in the ensuing years. He isn’t very active on social media, nor does he share much of his personal life online. But his LinkedIn page reveals that in November 2021, he became an advisor at Known, a company he describes as “a new financial platform to serve the multi-trillion dollar economy powered by communities of color.” Specifically, Known aims to help Black, Latinx, and Indigenous entrepreneurs establish their own financial firms and funds by providing them with financial support, business development, and other resources. Actor Kyle Marvin plays McKelvey in the new AppleTV+ series WeCrashed, which dramatizes WeWork’s rise and fall.