As WeWork goes public, ex-CEO Adam Neumann celebrates as his net worth rises to $2.3 billion
The day WeWork began trading on the New York Stock Exchange, WeWork cofounder and ousted CEO Adam Neumann was partying at The Standard hotel in New York City, wearing a T-shirt that read “student for life”—at the event he and his cofounder Miguel McKelvey were hosting for the coworking space startup’s earliest employees.
Neumann had good reason to celebrate: He still holds an approximate 11% stake in the company—worth about $722 million, per Bloomberg—though he reportedly won’t be able to sell his shares for another nine months. Following WeWork’s merger with BowX Acquisition Corp., a SPAC, Neumann is now worth around $2.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. While that’s still a far cry from his estimated net worth in 2019 (a whopping $14 billion), Neumann’s net worth had fallen below the $1 billion mark last year.
But even as the company finally goes public after its debauched efforts in 2019, WeWork is a mere shell of the $47 billion–valued startup it was in January of that year. WeWork’s largest investor, SoftBank, had put more than $17 billion into the firm since 2017, only to see WeWork’s valuation dwindle down to around $9 billion. SoftBank and WeWork have paid hundreds of millions to formally sever its ties with Neumann.
More than 2,000 employees lost their jobs when WeWork’s IPO fell apart two years ago after investors called into question its governance policies as well as growth-at-all-costs business model that was reeling in steep losses. The company’s disclosures at the time revealed that Neumann had been leasing companies he owned back to the company. The ex-CEO had also taken a $500 million line of credit from investment banks to boost his own stake in the company, plus a $362 million loan from WeWork itself owing to his early exercise of a stock option.
Interest in WeWork’s shares dwindled, Neumann resigned, and the company ultimately delayed its offering, then withdrew it altogether. SoftBank ended up bailing out WeWork shortly after. SoftBank settled with the former founder earlier this year.
Now, with reported losses of $3.2 billion in 2020, WeWork is finally trading publicly, under the ticker “WE.” (Its stock was trading at $11.58, up 11.8% midafternoon Thursday, with a market cap of about $9 billion.) That’s, in part, because Neumann reportedly helped sell Vivek Ranadivé, co-CEO of the SPAC, BowX Acquisition Corp., on the deal. BowX’s stockholders approved the merger with WeWork on Oct. 20. The deal is expected to funnel $1.3 billion into WeWork.
Neumann may be celebrating as WeWork begins its trading debut. But after the roller-coaster ride the company has faced in the past two years, not everyone has as much of a reason to cheer.
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