According to a zany new profile in the Wall Street Journal today, WeWork (We Co) CEO Adam Neumann has told people...
• He'd like to be Israel's Prime Minister
• Interested in being “president of the world”
• Wants to be the world's first trillionaire
• He hopes to live forever.
“This account is based on interviews with current and former employees, investors and friends who interacted with Mr. Neumann as he built We.”
The Wall Street Journal today published this exhaustive (exhausting, even!) profile of Adam Neumann, the wacky bro CEO who founded office-rental giant WeWork, which filed its S-1 as We Co. You must read it.
Adam Neumann, ladies and gentlemen, a story told in excerpts from this WSJ piece:
• He told at least one person directly that his ambitions included becoming Israel’s prime minister. More recently, he said that if he ran for anything, it would be president of the world, according to another person who spoke with him.
• Mr. Neumann has told several people over the past two years that a personal goal is to become the world’s first trillionaire.
• In a 2015 investment round, Mr. Neumann sold tens of millions of dollars of shares. Soon after, the company launched a buyback program offering to purchase employees’ shares too. But the company gave employees a different arrangement, giving them a payout per share worth substantially less than what Mr. Neumann was paid, people familiar with the sale said. Mr. Neumann’s sale wasn’t publicized within the company.
• Both Neumanns could be impulsive at times, former executives say. [Rebekah] Neumann has ordered multiple employees fired after meeting them for just minutes, telling staff she didn’t like their energy. She and Mr. Neumann have sent maintenance and IT staff to their homes to fix various items.
• When Mr. Neumann announced in July 2018 via video call from Israel that the company was banning meat, executives in New York were caught off guard. With little explanation from Mr. Neumann, a group huddled to determine a rationale—they settled on sustainability—and the mechanics of what would be banned and how. They determined employees couldn’t expense meals with meat, but they could eat it in company offices, so long as the company didn’t pay. Former employees say they have since seen Mr. Neumann eat meat.
• He previously has instructed staff to fire 20% of employees a year, bemoaning the number of “B” players hired amid rapid growth. Managers were unable to hit the target even when they included attrition.
Also: Lots of alcohol.
Wonder what else is going on over there.
Incidentally, Neumann's wife is a first cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow, and also espouses the same sort of spiritualism, the WSJ says:
Former employees who worked with her say she pushes to infuse spiritualism in We—which has a mission statement to “elevate the world’s consciousness”—and enjoys broad autonomy at the company. She is the chief brand officer and head of WeGrow—the private company’s preschool and elementary school that costs up to $42,000 a year and is open to anyone. She is an important counsel for Mr. Neumann, and he has told staff they often make decisions together.
READ THE REST:
‘This Is Not the Way Everybody Behaves.’ How Adam Neumann’s Over-the-Top Style Built WeWork: The skills that helped fuel We Co.’s breakneck growth are piling up as potential liabilities as the company prepares to go public
PHOTO, SHUTTERSTOCK - In this Jan. 16, 2018 file photo, Adam Neumann, center, co-founder and CEO of WeWork, attends the opening bell ceremony at Nasdaq in New York. WeWork's parent company is revealing more of its initial public offering plans, saying it expects to list shares on the Nasdaq. The company also announced corporate governance changes in response to market feedback, including limiting the role of the founder's family on its board of directors. The We Co. disclosed the information in a regulatory filing on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019.