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Adam Neumann. Picture: REUTERS/EDUARDO MUNOZ
Adam Neumann. Picture: REUTERS/EDUARDO MUNOZ

It’s difficult to separate Adam Neumann from WeWork, the shared-workspace company he co-founded — despite how hard some investors have tried.

As WeWork completes its second attempt to go public — this time through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) valuing the combined company at $9bn — Neumann’s name is peppered 197 times throughout the business combination filing, even though he’s no longer an employee or board member. Many of those mentions relate to his acrimonious split from the company and subsequent litigation with its largest investor, SoftBank Group, after its first failed IPO attempt in 2019. 

There’s the $185m charge for a non-compete agreement for Neumann, $106m for a settlement payment, and $578m for shares sold by his We Holdings to SoftBank. There’s also an extension on a $432m loan from the Japanese firm, secured by some of his WeWork stake. 

All of that means that after WeWork’s merger Wednesday with BowX Acquisition, Neumann is worth about $2.3bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Even after his share sales, he’ll own stock worth $722m in the new company. BowX Acquisition was created by Bow Capital, a venture capital fund that works in partnership with the University of California. Its shares closed at $10.38 on Wednesday.

A representative for Neumann declined to comment on his net worth. A spokesperson for WeWork also declined to comment.

It’s a far cry from the heady days of January 2019, when SoftBank’s investment valued WeWork at $47bn and Neumann’s fortune peaked at $14bn. By early 2020, after SoftBank scrapped a deal to buy his shares after the IPO was pulled, he’d dropped out of the ranks of billionaires altogether, and WeWork’s prospects looked bleak as it struggled to survive the early days of the pandemic. 

Neumann and WeWork sued SoftBank after the deal fell through. In February, the sides reached a settlement that helped clear the way for the firm’s second attempt to go public. 

Outside WeWork, Neumann, 42, is involved in start-ups through his family office, 166 2nd LLC. They include GoTo Global, a mobility company renting scooters, bikes and cars; loan servicer Valon Mortage; and Selina, which provides combined hotel and working spaces. His venture-capital portfolio is now worth as much as $2b in total, according to a person familiar with his finances, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. 

His real estate portfolio, mostly consisting of commercial investments, is worth about $1.5bn excluding debt, according to the person. 

Even though he’s stepped down from WeWork’s board, Neumann still has the right to attend their meetings as part of agreements he negotiated as part of his exit. 

But as the filing makes clear, Neumann will participate “as a non-voting board observer — not as a director,” and he doesn’t have “the right to influence decisions to be made or actions to be taken by the new WeWork board.” 

And if SoftBank decides they no longer want to see him at the meetings, they can demand he send a designee instead. 

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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