WeWork’s Adam Neumann has regrets, no excuses
In his first interview since his ouster as CEO of WeWork, Adam neumann admitted that the company’s $ 47 billion valuation had gone to his head. But he didn’t apologize to WeWork employees whose stock options dematerialized when the company suffered a dramatic corporate downturn unprecedented since Theranos. âYes, the evaluation made us feel like we were right, which made me feel that whatever style I was leading was correct style at the time,â Neumann told CNBC. Andrew Ross Sorkin Tuesday at The New York Times‘DealBook Online Summit. âMaybe it went to my head. I think at one point it didâ¦ When the whole world told you that, yes, we believed it and we thought it was really happening.
Neumann said the head of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon personally advised him to quit WeWork in the days leading up to his resignation. âHe said to me, ‘Adam, you’ve done a great job so far, but you’ll have to put the business first,’â he said. “I trusted Jamie and admired Jamie. I still do.” He was also grilled over the controversial severance package – worth around $ 1 billion – he received upon leaving the company. âWhat do you say to all employees – and we are talking about thousands of employees who have lost their jobs, including [stock] options have effectively become worthless at that $ 47 billion valuation – who looks at you and says, not only did this all happen under your watch, but you walked away with over $ 1 billion? Sorkin asked.
Newman responded that he was “disappointed” on behalf of these employees, but argued that taking a stake in a startup always has its “risks.” As for his own income? “This perception that, as the company went from a valuation of $ 47 billion to $ 9 billion, that I somehow profited as the company went down, is completely wrong, âhe said. âThe market has now decided it is worth $ 9 billion. This is measured on a daily basis and I actually think WeWork has a better opportunity today than it did then. (Neumann’s appearance on DealBook comes less than a month after WeWork went public with a valuation of $ 9 billion.)
Neumann spoke of the “multiple lessons and multiple regrets” he’s pondered over the past few years, but played down rumors of WeWork’s toxic office culture, including wild parties and his own alleged drug use on the corporate private jet. Claims like this, he said, “make good stories for movies and TV shows” – moreover, his jet set was “very necessary,” he said, because he had to. to visit WeWork sites across the country. “People focus on it so much that they miss the real story,” he lamented. “Having a plane is detrimental to real success.” Nowadays, that fact is no longer relevant: In September 2019, Business Insider announced that WeWork’s legendary aircraft, a Gulfstream G650, would go on sale.
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