The Adam Neumann story seems to be the gift that just keeps on giving, for writers anyway. Just when you thought there was no more to learn, like the Energizer Bunny the Adam Neumann saga just keeps going and going and going… Now a new book called “The Cult of We” has even more dirt of the Israeli onetime wunderkind.
“The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion,” by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell comes out on Tuesday, July 20. Eliot Brown covers startups and venture capital for The Wall Street Journal. He joined the Journal in 2010 to cover real estate, and previously worked at The New York Observer. A graduate of Macalester College, he lives in San Francisco. Maureen Farrell covers capital markets and IPOs at The Wall Street Journal, where she has worked since 2013.
The NY Post says that the book portrays Neumann and his wife Rebekah Paltrow as a pair of “Marie Antoinette-like figures: living it up — partying on private jets, spending money like water and leaving employees to clean up their messes — while their world was beginning to crumble around them.”
In 2019, Neumann was forced out of WeWork, the company which he founded in 2010. After a meteoric rise the entrepreneur was brought down after allegations of serious drug use and sexual improprieties were made. WeWork was forced to deal with sexual harassment suits. It delayed its planned IPO and laid off many workers.
And the new Hulu documentary “WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of A $47 Billion Unicorn” paints a very dim picture of Adam Neumann. It also makes his wife seem like a Lady Macbeth figure.
Adam Neumann is certainly one who likes to take shortcuts to get to where he is going, or cut corners as it were. This is evident in one anecdote about how he surfs. “The way I surf, I don’t have time for paddling,” Neumann is said to have confided once in a friend. So instead of taking the time to go from the beach out to the deep water, Adam Neumann would get chauffeured out to it on a Jet Ski. The author explains that this is something that “Most surfers consider cheating—like a mountain climber hopping a ride on a helicopter most of the way up.”
And cutting corners was exactly the problem at WeWork.
But there is one story that does paint a positive picture of Adam Neumann, at least for Jews. According to Yahoo News, Adam Neumann was conflicted about taking money for WeWork from Saudi investors who insisted that none of his share of the profits go to Israel. Neumann at first refused the new investment, but was apparently later on talked into accepting the money.
Yahoo had an exclusive outtake from the book quoting the authors saying, “Neumann would wrestle for months with the implications of taking the money. Would he be personally responsible for funding the Saudi government and anything negative they might do with it? How can we ever be sure that won’t happen?” While he did take the money, Adam Neumann never made the demanded promises over how he would spend it.