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WeWork Scrambles To Stop Adam Neumann From Buying it Back

To have any hope of emerging from Chapter 11 without selling, the company needs to raise somewhere in the ballpark of $400 million.

Photo of former WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann
Photo by TechCrunch via CC BY 2.0

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If there’s one person WeWork doesn’t want to share any office space with, you’d think it’d be its quirky founder.

The once high-flying “space management technology” company is trying to raise enough money to emerge from bankruptcy without selling itself, the Financial Times reported Thursday. The most high-profile bidder at the moment is Adam Neumann, WeWork’s often-barefooted cofounder and ex-CEO who stepped down in 2019 following investor pressure.

Feeling Like a New Man

WeWork filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November and has trimmed its vast real estate footprint to right the ship. Its fall from grace dates back to around the time Neumann stepped down, following confidence-shattering disclosures about his leadership style while the company was angling to go public. WeWork eventually went public in 2021, but at a valuation of $9 billion — which wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been privately valued at $47 billion two years earlier. By August 2023, its market cap was down to just $300 million.

Neumann hasn’t been sitting on his hands. In 2022, he started Flow, a real estate business focused on apartments rather than office buildings. Or, as Neumann put it in an interview with Business Insider last week, it’s an “experience-first residential-real-estate company.” It’s through Flow that Neumann hopes to recapture WeWork:

  • Flow has already made a conditional offer of $600 million to buy WeWork, Flow’s attorney Alex Spiro (of Elon Musk client fame) said the firm is willing to beat any competing offer by 10%. 
  • Two sources told the FT that for WeWork to have any hope of emerging from Chapter 11 without selling, it needs to raise somewhere in the ballpark of $400 million. The company has already done the legwork of restructuring itself.

Working from Home: In his interview with Business Insider, Neumann hinted that he wants to meld residential and office real estate by acquiring WeWork. “In the new hybrid world, working and living are very correlated,” said Neumann. He added that the two apartment buildings Flow operates in Florida are 95% and 96% full, with “more coming soon.” So stay tuned for more Neumann-architectured work-life balance, folks.