Adam Neumann is looking to make a comeback following his ousting from the coworking company he founded that, for better or for worse, shifted the industry as a whole.
Stories of lavish private jets, booze-riddled company parties, and frivolous investments have birthed several documentaries and an Apple TV+ series, making Neumann a character of the pre-pandemic zeitgeist.
However, Neumann isn’t fictional. Years after nearly driving WeWork to the brink of disaster following its failed IPO in 2019, Neumann is ready to start anew and create “something much bigger than I even knew was possible.”
Despite these setbacks, Neumann’s salesmanship and desire for control is as strong as ever. In an interview with Financial Times reporter Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, Neumann’s publicist initially suggested that any quotes used must be approved beforehand, but backed down after the newspaper rejected this idea.
Neumann has a presentation that shows that, although much has changed in his universe, his core charm remains the same.
“To be an entrepreneur, you have to regularly make decisions on the spot. And to be successful, you have to, over time, make more right decisions than you did wrong — actually, a lot more right. And the higher the growth of the business, the faster you move, the tougher that it is to do,” said Neumann. “But the longer you practice, just like surfing over time, the better you get at it. So you fall in surfing, and then you get up and do it again. And you do it just a little bit better.”
All of this is to say, Neumann aspires for a future bigger than ever before. He also can’t help but throw in a surfing analogy.
Now, the former coworking guru is setting his sights on the residential sector, which has been particularly hard on younger professionals throughout the last few years. In fact, the median age of a homebuyer in the US has grown from 31 in 1981 to 45.
In recent months, Neumann has been purchasing affordable rental apartments across the southern US, including cities like Atlanta, Austin, Miami, and Nashville.
“We started by buying this real estate, but then I started walking the buildings, just feeling, and it felt like there’s so much more that could be done to make these tenants’ lives better,” said Neumann.
With a clear desire for creating community, it is still unclear what this endeavor will look like in the future and if it will replicate the side coliving business he once started called WeLive.
“I think what’s beautiful about the new story is that it is a progression and a consequence of the old story,” said Neumann “I don’t know if it’s a model, but a thought that guided me is that if we take everything that happened as a lesson, and we celebrate the great, we learn from whatever it is we can learn from, and then apply it as we move forward into the future, then it . . . it’s extremely beneficial.”