The shocking and rude ways WeWork’s ex-CEO Adam Neumann treated staff (2023)

Adam Neumann came up at the right time: on the tail of the great recession when everybody wanted to be an entrepreneur and office space was available on the cheap.

After immigrating from Israel to New York City in 2001, he tried his hand at Krawlers — a line of baby clothing with padded knees — which flopped. When he co-founded the shared-workspace company WeWork three years later, it was with some of a $1 million wedding present he and wife, Rebekah, had received from her Long Island parents.

But Adam, now 42, was never exactly a nose-to the grindstone guy. As co-authors Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell reveal in the book “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion” (Crown), out Tuesday, expensive shortcuts appealed to Adam.

For example, he became obsessed with surfing, but found it a hassle to get to the big waves. “The way I surf, I don’t have time for paddling,” he told a colleague. Instead, he would hop on a chauffeured Jet Ski. As the book puts it, “Most surfers consider [this] cheating—like a mountain climber hopping a ride on a helicopter most of the way up.”

Some surf spots in Hawaii even forbid the practice, but Adam would hire local surf coaches who knew how to skirt regulations.

The shocking and rude ways WeWork’s ex-CEO Adam Neumann treated staff (1)

In the book, the Neumanns are portrayed as a pair of Marie Antoinette-like figures: living it up — partying on private jets, spending money like water and leaving employees to clean up their messes — while their world was beginning to crumble around them.

WeWork was founded in 2010 andthrived as a hot commodity before turning into a hopeless money suck for investors. Between missed opportunities and the erratic behavior of Adam, its CEO, WeWork became a shambles by 2019.

The book is packed with stories of his shocking managerial style.

(Video) The Shocking True Story of WeCrashed

WeWork senior executives requesting an in-person meeting might be asked to fly with Adam from New York to San Francisco at a moment’s notice. But then he was just as likely to make them wait for hours, leave before they arrived at the airport or simply not have time to talk to them on the six-and-a-half-hour flight.

Sometimes he abandoned them upon landing, leaving staffers to find their own way home. This mirrored his behavior on land, too. Adam would meet with staff and even interview prospective employees while riding around in his Maybach, a superluxury car costing more than $200,000 — then, when he was done, tell them to get out and ride in a separate “chase car” in his convoy.

According to the book, “One executive was shown the door in the middle of gridlocked traffic on the Long Island Expressway — instructed to find the chase car somewhere behind them in the traffic.”

The shocking and rude ways WeWork’s ex-CEO Adam Neumann treated staff (2)

In 2018, he got a taste of his own medicine.

For a personal trip to Israel, Adam borrowed a G650ER plane from Gulfstream as he was awaiting delivery of the WeWork private jet. After landing, the crew discovered a cereal box full of marijuana in a closet, presumably left for the return home.

As the authors write, “Smoking on board was one thing, but transporting marijuana — an illegal drug in New York and Israel — across borders … might expose Gulfstream to serious risks.”

Gulfstream pulled the jet, leaving Adam and his pals to find their own way home.
Adam and his cohort were notorious among private jet crews. After a chartered trip to Mexico City in 2015, the operator, Gama Aviation, complained to WeWork that “passengers were spitting tequila on each other”; one passenger became sick “throughout the cabin and lavatory,” requiring extra cleaning; and that the “crew was not tipped.”

VistaJet, the authors write, was frequently forced to deal with Adam’s onboard partying: taking jets out of service to clean up alcohol spills and vomit. On multiple occasions, the CEO or one of his companions tore down a curtain divider.

(Video) How Adam Neumann Captained WeWork Into The Ground (part 4 of 4)

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On one of Adam’s flights, there was so much marijuana smoke in the cabin that the crew felt the need to don oxygen masks.

Back on land, Adam’s wife, Rebekah, who is now 43, was telling interviewers that the couple “believe in this new ‘Asset Light’ lifestyle.”

It was a pretty rich statement.

Upon buying a $15 million Tudor-style home in Pound Ridge, NY, the Neumanns added 2,000 square feet to the existing 13,000 and reduced the nine bedrooms to five supersized ones. At the WeWork headquarters on Eighteenth Street near Sixth Avenue, Adam installed a secret exit, an “ice plunge” — a metal tub filled with ice water, meant to stand in to refresh one’s legs — and a “smoke eater.” A high-powered HVAC vent usually used in cigar bars to keep the air clear, Neumann’s smoke eater was for marijuana, according to the book.

It seemed like a fancy contraption for a man who, during meetings, would sometimes finish off meals prepared by his private chef by licking the plate clean.

When the Neumanns paid $34 million for a compound of apartments on Irving Place, a makeover was inevitable. They combined the fifth, sixth and seventh floors, demolishing interior walls on one floor to create a gargantuan master bedroom. (Buying so many units gave the couple control of the building’s condo board, meaning no stops to the renovation.)

The shocking and rude ways WeWork’s ex-CEO Adam Neumann treated staff (4)

But that was nothing next to their most desired customization.

Rebekah was scared of a 5G cellular antenna next to their apartment — afraid that electromagnetism from it could cause cancer. Her brother had died of cancer at 23, as had other close relatives, including her uncle Bruce Paltrow (the father of Gwyneth Paltrow). Despite there being little scientific research to back up concerns about 5G technology, Rebekah was adamant: The antenna had to go.

(Video) How Adam Neumann Captained WeWork Into The Ground (part 3 of 4)

First, WeWork’s CFO Artie Minson, who had previously worked at Time Warner Cable, was asked to persuade Verizon or Sprint to find a new home for the antenna — despite him busily preparing WeWork for an IPO. Minson didn’t get far, so others in the organization were roped in.

Finally, it landed with Maria Comella, WeWork’s top public affairs and policy executive. She had been chief of staff to Gov. Cuomo and an aide toChris Christie. But in the spring of 2018, she was tasked with calling up phone companies and pleading for her boss and his wife: Please move this antenna.

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“We understand that the Neumanns got to a point where they found a way to buy out the cell carrier’s lease and would have been able to have it taken down,” co-author Eliot Brown told The Post. “But that happened right as things were imploding [at WeWork]. To the best of our knowledge, it did not come down.”

Meanwhile, Rebekah wasn’t happy with the education of their five kids. So in 2017, she and Adam created their own elementary school: WeGrow was housed at the WeWork offices in Chelsea. The curriculum included regular jaunts to the Neumanns’ Pound Ridge home, where the students picked produce and learned about farming. Tuition went up to $42,000.

But once again, the Neumanns treated their employees like serfs. Teachers would return on Monday to find trash on the floor and chairs in the wrong rooms — all because Adam and Rebekah had used the school for a dinner party. Educators would have to hurriedly clean up, and then, according to the book, “spend the first few days of the week reprimanding the Neumanns’ children and … their friends to observe rules regarding climbing on [structures] or swinging from them. The children would protest: ‘We were allowed to do that this weekend. Why can’t we now?’”

Rebekah would apologize, only for it to happen again. (The school closed in 2019 after the WeWork IPO floundered, but Rebekah bought the rights to the curriculum and hopes to relaunch WeGrow.)

One executive was shown the door inthe middle of gridlocked traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

“Cult of We” on how Adam Neumann would meet in his car with staff, then dismiss them

There was one person who called BS on Adam’s hubris: Elon Musk.

(Video) How Adam Neumann Captained WeWork Into The Ground (part 2 of 4)

Adam was hungry to work with the SpaceX and Tesla head on his plans for Mars, where Musk aspires to one day construct a habitable colony. After finally securing a meeting, Adam was kept waiting for hours before Musk gave him minutes to pitch his own idea for a community on the planet.

“Getting to Mars would be the easy part, Adam told [Musk]. Building community would be hard,” the authors write. “Musk, Adam later recalled to his staff, was unimpressed and lectured Adam about how getting there was, in fact, the hard part. Musk was an idol, yet he put Adam in his place … When Adam recounted the meeting to Rebekah, she told him it was a moment of humility he probably needed.”

He had faced a similar moment the year before, but it didn’t seem to faze Adam.

While in India to meet with investors about expanding WeWork to that country, Adam partied a little too hard the night before. The planned meeting time came and went as staffers waited in the hotel lobby for their fearless leader.

Finally, security was asked to enter the CEO’s room and check on him. Adam was passed out cold. The meeting missed, he instead spent the day recovering at a spa.

Things came to a head on Sept. 22, 2019, nine months after WeWork received its enviable $47 billion valuation. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, which the book’s authors helped write, company directors planned to press Adam to step down.

Reasons cited included his drug use, eccentric behavior and delayedinitial public offering of a company that burned through $2 billion in 2018 and thrived with the help of some $12 billion in venture capital money and debt.

The shocking and rude ways WeWork’s ex-CEO Adam Neumann treated staff (6)

One month later, Adam was out. His personal worth plunged from $10 billion to, Forbes reported, $750 million. (His fortune is now valued at more than $1 billion.)

(Video) How Adam Neumann Captained WeWork Into The Ground (part 1 of 4)

According to the authors, he received more than $192 million in cash for walking away, as well as a revised stock award of around $245 million and permission to sell more than $500 million in WeWork stock.

He and Rebekah sold two of their eight homes and were seen in December 2019 at San Francisco International Airport — flying commercial. But one thing hasn’t changed.

As Adam spends his days surfing in Montauk, the authors write, “His squad was mostly gone, but he wasn’t completely alone. He was still paying someone to tug him out to the waves on the back of a Jet Ski.”


Why did WeWork Employees Sue Adam? ›

Bardhi is suing Neumann, along with the company and WeWork's chief legal officer, Jennifer Berrent. In the suit, Bardhi alleges that Neumann referred to maternity leave as "vacation" and "retirement" and made disparaging comments about her pregnancy-related weight gain to her and other WeWork employees.

What happened to WeWork early employees? ›

WeWork, which went public two weeks ago via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), laid off thousands of employees after its IPO plans fizzled in 2019, not long after its valuation reached a peak $47 billion.

What happened to Adam Neumann after he left WeWork? ›

Nearly three years after Adam Neumann stepped down as CEO of WeWork following a failed attempt to take the company public, he is said to once again be in charge of a billion-dollar real estate startup.

How much did Adam from WeWork walk away with? ›

Adam sued SoftBank, before reaching a settlement with the Japanese firm that reportedly awarded him 50% of what was initially offered—leaving Adam with $480 million instead of $960 million, $50 million for legal fees, another $50 million for a noncompete fee, and a five-year extension on a $430 million loan.

Did any WeWork employees make money? ›

WeWork finally went public in October 2021 at $9 million, which was $38 million less than at its peak. Miguel McKelvey left WeWork in June 2020, yet celebrated WeWork going public with Adam. After being promised to make millions in its heyday, many WeWork employees made nothing and sued Adam and Softbank.

What is the WeWork scandal? ›

Investors who bought shares in WeWork prior to the failed IPO file a class-action lawsuit against WeWork and SoftBank. The investors allege that WeWork downplayed losses and overhyped its business plan. McKelvey announces his departure from the company soon after the lawsuit.

What does Adam drink in wecrashed? ›

Neumann drinks tequila multiple times in episode 2, nodding to his noted love for the alcohol. In episode two, Neumann drinks tequila at his wedding, the night before the first WeWork opens, and the morning of its opening.

What happened Weworks wife? ›

She is still a billionaire's wife

The couple are still together now, meaning they can continue to enjoy their lavish life thanks to Adam's US$2.3 billion net worth.

Who got rich from WeWork? ›

In 2019, he co-founded a family office dubbed 166 2nd Financial Services with his wife, Rebekah Neumann, to manage their personal wealth, investing over a billion dollars in real estate and venture startups.
Adam Neumann
Known forCo-founder, WeWork
Height6 ft 5 in (196 cm)
SpouseRebekah Neumann
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Did Masa pay Adam? ›

While on their vacation to Israel, they got a devastating call from Masa that he would not let the buyout package come through. After several back-and-forths, Adam and Masa had finally agreed on a figure of $975 million for the former's shares.

How much did Masa pay Neumann? ›

Neumann was to receive $960 million, but under the settlement he will receive $480 million, because SoftBank is buying half the number of shares, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement.

Are Miguel and Adam friends? ›

Neumann co-founded WeWork in 2010 with friend Miguel McKelvey. Together they opened their first co-working space in Manhattan, and the company had a rapid expansion all the way to a $47 billion valuation.

Is Adam from WeWork broke? ›

Despite the WeWork fallout, he's still a billionaire

According to The Wall Street Journal, Neumann has bought more than 4,000 flats valued in excess of US$1 billion.

What made WeWork fail? ›

What caused the WeWork disaster? Rapid expansion on the back of an unsustainable business model, Neumann's questionable dealings and erratic behaviour have been cited as reasons behind WeWork's fall.

Are Adam and Rebekah Neumann still wealthy? ›

The couple moved to Israel for a bit, sold some property, invested in a new venture, and are still doing well financially with a net worth in the billions.

Did WeWork employees sue? ›

SoftBank settles WeWork lawsuit, leaving embattled co-founder with windfall. WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann led the company to a failed IPO attempt in 2019 and was ousted shortly afterward. WeWork Cos. and co-founder Adam Neumann reached a legal settlement with SoftBank Group Corp.

How many WeWork employees were fired? ›

The unprofitable company pulled plans for an IPO last year, its CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann got ousted, and investor SoftBank withdrew its $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares. Last November, the company also laid off about 2,400 employees from its estimated 15,000 workforce.

Is WeWork still in debt? ›

WeWork has burned through nearly all of it. The company has $500 million in undrawn debt commitments from SoftBank and has said it expects to end 2022 with $300 million in cash, less than one-third of what it had at the end of 2021. Its debt contracts allow it to borrow another $500 million.

Did Adam from WeWork go to jail? ›

While he wasn't arrested or accused of any crimes, the WeWork board wanted Neumann removed and were willing to pay him an estimated $1.7 billion to step down. Although Neumann raked in the cash, his employees got laid off and were forced to leave the company, which ultimately did go public in 2021.

What happened to Rebekah from WeWork? ›

Since the collapse of WeWork and associated companies it has been discovered that Rebekah Neumann played a key role in WeWork's downfall. In 2020, Neumann bought back some of WeGrow's assets and started Student of Life for Life (SOLFL).

Are Adam and Rebekah still married? ›

The Neumanns are still married.

What alcohol do they drink in WeCrashed? ›

In Episode 2, Neumann admits to his admiration for tequila by drinking it several times. The second episode revisits Neumann's wedding, the night before the WeWork opens, and the morning of its opening. Neumann drinks tequila at his wedding and at his wedding.

Are Rebekah Neumann and Gwyneth Paltrow close? ›

Two minutes into meeting a Delta Gamma sister, Rebekah “sort of waved her hand and said, 'Yes, Gwyneth is my cousin. Yes, I know Brad [Pitt, whom Paltrow was dating at the time]. Yes, we are close.

Is Gwyneth Paltrow related to WeWork? ›

Anne Hathaway plays Rebekah Neumann in AppleTV+'s WeCrashed. And she happens to be Gwyneth Paltrow's cousin. Rebekah is married to Adam Neumann. Together, they founded WeWork, a startup that established coworking spaces, which was found to be hemorrhaging money in 2019.

What is Rebekah Neumann doing now? ›

In the summer of 2020, Rebekah Neumann re-acquired the rights to the curriculum of WeGrow. (The school had shut down in 2019, when Neumann was ousted.) According to Forbes, she planned to rename the school Student of Life For Life or SOLFL, pronounced “soulful,” and relaunch it.

Where are Adam and Rebekah now? ›

Then at some point, he went on to Israel, where he was born, sources said." As of 2020, the two were living in the Hamptons, with Rebekah looking to relaunch WeGrow as Student of Life For Life, or SOLFL.

How much money did Adam Neumann lose? ›

Through stock sales and the sum he got for stepping down as CEO, Neumann and We Holdings, an entity he controlled, were paid more than $1 billion in cash while the company lost over $11 billion, according to "The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion."

How much did Adam Newman make from WeWork? ›

Bloomberg reports that Neumann made more than $2.1 billion from WeWork from stock sales and cash settlements. And when his journey at WeWork came to an end in 2019, he was given a $1 billion golden parachute from SoftBank.

Are WeWork founders still married? ›

Are Rebekah and Adam Neumann still married? Rebekah and Adam Neumann have remained married after being ousted from WeWork in 2019. The couple share six children, according to a 2021 article in Vanity Fair. At one point, some of Neumann's children were enrolled in WeGrow.

Did Miguel from WeWork make money? ›

Due to his success in the business world, he has been able to amass an estimated net worth of $2.9billion, according to Forbes.

Who owns WeWork today? ›

As of May 2022 the company is traded at a valuation of $5.1 billion. In October 2019, Neumann received close to US$1.7 billion from stakeholder SoftBank for stepping down from WeWork's board and severing most of his ties to the company.
TypePublic company
Footnotes / references
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How much money did softbank lose on WeWork? ›

Softbank's $23 Billion Loss Looks Like More WeWork Fun - Bloomberg.

Does Masa regret WeWork? ›

SoftBank's Masa Son: I ignored WeWork's problems, made bad investments in US tech firms, and I'm really sorry.

What kind of person is Adam Neumann? ›

Adam tends to be a multitasker who thrives on flexibility and may sometimes lack patience. As a Type Three, Adam tends to be ambitious, adaptable, and enthusiastic. Adam is generally driven and loves to set and accomplish goals. As an ENTP, Adam tends to be expressive, curious, and spontaneous.

How much is Adam Neumann worth now? ›

Is WeWork still in business 2022? ›

First, WeWork will finish 2022 with $300 million in cash. That's less than one-third of what it had at the end of 2021. That's alarming, considering that in 2021, it had $4.4 billion in operating expenses and $2.7 billion in revenue.

Why did Adam get fired from WeWork? ›

As a former WeWork executive told Vanity Fair in 2019, “Adam was probably the best salesman of all time”—but he also “went through money like water.” His reckless spending, hard-partying lifestyle, and questionable business decisions ultimately led to his downfall.

Was Adam Neumann involved in WeCrashed? ›

Clara. This feature was produced and curated by THR editors and is presented by Apple TV+. In the final minutes of Apple TV+'s WeCrashed, the ousted co-founders of WeWork, Adam and Rebekah Neumann (played by Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway), appear to have landed on top even after leading their company to a failed IPO.

Did Adam from WeWork ever get his money? ›

According to a New York Post report from December of 2019, the Neumanns took their $1.7 billion payout and skipped town shortly after leaving the company they built.

Did Adam get fired from WeWork? ›

Despite presiding over WeWork's meteoric fall from grace, Adam Neumann managed to exit the startup as a very wealthy person. As reported by The New York Times, in September 2019, after nine years at the helm of WeWork, Adam stepped down as the company's CEO.

Did Adam make money from WeWork? ›

Neumann was once worth as much as $14 billion, but saw his fortune dwindle after WeWork's failed IPO and his subsequent resignation from the company. Bloomberg estimated his net worth at $450 million in 2020. Forbes pegged it a bit higher, at $750 million.

Who got rich off WeWork? ›

Miguel McKelvey cofounded coworking firm WeWork with Adam Neumann in 2010 and served as its chief culture officer until July 2020. McKelvey became a billionaire in 2016, but fell from the ranks as his less than 5% stake plummeted in value after WeWork's canceled September 2019 IPO.

How much did SoftBank lose on WeWork? ›

The bubble that the tech investor blamed for his company's $23 billion loss last quarter—after an additional $19 billion earlier this year—is one that he helped create. Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp.


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