Even though WeWork has filed for bankruptcy, founder Adam Neumann remains a billionaire.
In what has been one of the biggest valuation collapses in history, WeWork has seen the lower rung of its current capital structure all but wiped out, falling from a peak valuation that was near $50 billion. And while shareholders have been involuntarily decimated, the company's founder still remains a billionaire.
As Bloomberg noted this week, the company's bankruptcy occurred two years after its initial public offering, which was notably absent of its controversial co-founder. The firm reported $19 billion in debts against $15 billion in assets.
Significant stakeholders like Softbank Group Corp. and the Vision Fund are poised to face additional substantial losses on top of those already incurred from this venture.
In a statement, Neumann said: “It has been challenging for me to watch from the sidelines as WeWork has failed to take advantage of a product that is more relevant today than ever before." Yeah, we bet you're really struggling with it, Adam...
But despite the tarnishing of his reputation and WeWork's botched IPO in 2019, former CEO Neumann left with substantial liquidity, still holding a net worth of $1.7 billion.
Although his wealth dipped from $2.3 billion after WeWork went public via a SPAC in 2021, his WeWork shares plummeted by over 99%. He previously benefited from significant cash outs, including a $185 million non-compete fee and $578 million for selling shares to SoftBank, which also provided him a $432 million loan using his WeWork shares as collateral.
The company's bankruptcy is notably impacting the "visionaries" at SoftBank with an estimated $11.5 billion equity loss and $2.2 billion in outstanding debt. The ongoing bankruptcy proceedings will determine the distribution of company assets, with debt likely to be swapped for equity and subordinate bondholders facing losses.
But Neumann seems to be doing just fine, Bloomberg noted. He is channeling his efforts into Flow, his new startup focusing on residential properties, which garnered a $350 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz, valuing the company at $1 billion before it even launched.
Flow's mission is to enhance community and a sense of ownership among residents in multi-family properties, some of which Neumann already owned. The exact amount of Neumann's investment in Flow is unclear, suggesting his actual net worth might exceed Bloomberg’s estimates.
However, Neumann's financial ventures have seen mixed results. His family office defaulted on interest payments for a $31 million mortgage on a San Jose property. Neumann, once criticized for leasing buildings to WeWork, no longer has such dealings with the company, sparing him from lease renegotiations amidst WeWork's bankruptcy.
Zero Hedge contributor Quoth the Raven wrote this week that the WeWork bankruptcy is "multiple lessons, packaged in one". He said "it offers us lessons about how anybody will take dogsh*t to the market and try to assign it a grand valuation, how nobody does due diligence, and how people can continually get bamboozled by legacy business models that are wrapped up and repackaged as something new when they aren’t."
And while Neumann's future involvement with WeWork is uncertain, there have been discussions, despite his lack of a non-compete clause, about a potential role in the company's post-bankruptcy phase. Neumann concluded: “With the right strategy and team, a reorganization will enable WeWork to emerge successfully.”
Should that happen, all we can say is future shareholders will likely get what they deserve...