Will Adam Neumann Rescue WeWork?
I think he is likely to try.
Adam Neumann is rich thanks to WeWork. Now, he has a chance to buy something on the cheap that he once held dear.
Neumann reportedly made about $770 million when the office space company went public via a special purpose acquisition vehicle in October 2021. And he sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stock before that. (It’s worth remembering that he made a fortune while many employees and shareholders saw their positions decimated as WeWork’s value fell.)
Now that WeWork has filed for bankruptcy protection, will the company’s wealthy and infamous founder tap some of that fortune to rescue the brand that he willed into being by sheer force of personality?
Today, one former WeWork executive texted me that he thought Neumann would try to reclaim the company he founded in 2010.
“I think Adam Neumann comes in and buys the company; he’s well capitalized and given that the Board is now almost exclusively restructuring specialists, they will take care of all the big problems (getting out of leases, making the company significantly smaller across the board, establishing a sustainable business model, etc),” this former executive texted me.
That took me by surprise, so I started asking questions and picked up on even more signs that Neumann is interested.
A source familiar with the matter told me that “real people with real money” have asked Neumann if he would join an effort to become involved in the restructuring.
Neumann has been leaving breadcrumbs that he might be interested.
At the Fortune Brainstorm Conference in July, Neumann said that his Andreessen Horowitz-backed residential real estate startup Flow would either need to compete with or partner with WeWork.
And if you read it closely, Neumann’s statement yesterday1 on WeWork’s troubles only gives more credence to the idea that Neumann still sees an enticing future for WeWork if the company can find “the right strategy and team.”
I hear Neumann’s non-compete with WeWork just ended in October.
One former WeWork investor also told me that he thought Neumann would probably try to buy the company. “He basically said it without saying it,” this person said about the press release.