In what could be the most shocking reunion since Ben Affleck and J-Lo, WeWork co-founder and ex-CEO Adam Neumann has sent the proverbial “u up?” text to his old business.
Driving the news: For months now, Neumann’s latest venture, Flow Global, has been trying to acquire WeWork out of bankruptcy and provide financing to keep it running. WeWork filed for bankruptcy in Canada and the U.S. last November, and is now undergoing restructuring.
Catch-up: Neumann famously almost ran the co-working company into the ground in 2019 with dubious decisions (like investing in a wave pool company) and party-hardy behaviour that led to massive debts, doubts about his abilities, a failed IPO, and, finally, his departure.
- Japanese mega-investor SoftBank stepped in to take majority control and took WeWork public through a SPAC in 2021 — it quickly became a penny stock.
Now, Neumann wants back in, but WeWork doesn’t seem too interested. While some creditors are looking to sell after the bankruptcy process, execs are ignoring Neumann’s overtures, reportedly denying him info he would need to submit a bid for the company.
- This isn’t surprising given his tumultuous history and the fact that SoftBank, which is still WeWork’s top shareholder, saw Neumann set fire to billions of its dollars.
Yes, but: WeWork can’t afford to be too picky. While the company said it’s received interest from others, it also may have to take out a new bankruptcy loan to continue its restructuring.
Bottom line: For all his faults, Neumann did lead WeWork to become the most valuable U.S. startup at one time and has shown a preternatural ability to drum up capital. Maybe he’s just the guy to return WeWork to its old glory. Like, a soft maybe… but still a maybe.—QH