- WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has led the company since cofounding it in 2010. It is scheduled to go public under the holding company The We Company in September.
- Since the release of We’s S-1 prospectus in August, Neumann’s unusual relationship to the company had undergone intense scrutiny.
- Neumann controls a private company that owns a majority stake in The We Company and has used it to sell the “We” name to The We Company for nearly $6 million. He also previously rented property to his company and borrowed millions in loans from it.
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The coworking space giant WeWork, under its parent company The We Company, is set to go public next month in one of the biggest and most polarizing IPOs of this year.
Since releasing its S-1 prospectus in August, analysts have not only been scrutinizing We’s financials, but also its charismatic founder and CEO, Adam Neumann.
Neumann cofounded WeWork in 2010 and has led it to a valuation of $47 billion with 466,000 members across 28 countries.
Along the way, Neumann has been a landlord to and a borrower from his company. He’s controlled a separate private company, WE Holdings LLC, which as the S-1 revealed, sold the copyright to the “We” name to this company about to go public, for almost $6 million. The corporate structure is also quite complex, though a key takeaway is that it grants Neumann maximum control.
As the IPO approaches, we’ve collected some of the highly unusual ways Neumann has made millions, and will continue to make if the IPO is successful, from WeWork.
He controls other companies that give him the majority ownership of the We Company.
Neumann and his team decided to go with a relatively unusual Up-C structure (an upstream C-corporation) that makes the We Company a holding company. Neumann and his cofounder Miguel McKelvey have a separate private company called WE Holdings LLC that is the largest shareholder in the We Company, and Neumann has 100% ownership of the voting shares.
WE Holdings owns more than 2.4 million shares of Class A common stock and 111.9 million shares of Class B common stock, the latter coming with 20 votes per share.
The S-1 showed Neumann has separate companies called Anincentco1 LLC, Anincentco2 LLC, and Anincentco3 LLC that own shares in the We Company.
And then Neumann and the other eight directors own shares in the We Company Partnership, but Neumann has sole ownership of its 1.06 million Class C shares.
He sold the rights to the “We” name to The We Company for $5.9 million.
When it was time for the We Company to incorporate, it had to buy rights to its name — from Neumann.
Neumann had previously purchased the “We” name for WE Holdings LLC, and he sold it to the company he planned to go public, for $5.9 million.
When Business Insider’s Julie Bort asked the We Company earlier this week about the arrangement, a representative declined to comment.
He cashed out $700 million ahead of the IPO.
Neumann cashed out more than $700 million through stock sales and debt ahead of the We Company’s IPO, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.
Unnamed sources close to Neumann told the Journal he did so because he’s bullish on the stock, but it’s an unusually large move for a founder ahead of an IPO, rather than following it.
Neumann had previously acted as a landlord to his own company.
Neumann came under fire in January when the Wall Street Journal revealed that he had made $12 million through renting to WeWork properties he personally owned.
In an interview in May, Neumann told us he had purchased some of these properties in 2013 because landlords did not yet believe in WeWork, and he had to set an example.
He said that he was selling all of those properties to ARK, a nearly $3 billion fund the We Company is using to purchase and manage the properties it rents from. The acronym stands for “Adam, Rebekah, and Kids.”
ARK operates under a separate team that does not include Neumann, but it is still under the We umbrella, in its Up-C structure. “ARK is a separate company that reports to another chairman, Steven Langman,” Neumann told BI in May. “And they have fiduciary duties toward the people they raise money from. It’s their job to buy real estate that is going to make a return for their investors.”
And he took a $7 million loan from WeWork.
The S-1 also revealed that Neumann took out a $7 million loan in 2016, and paid it in full the next year.
And WeWork issued loans to WE Holdings LLC — again, which Neumann controls — for $10.4 million in 2013 and $15 million in February.
While none of these loans are outstanding, news of their existence raised eyebrows, because as Neumann was renting out properties to his company, he was also borrowing money from it.
In addition to all of this, Neumann has a $500 million line of credit with UBS, JPMorgan Chase, and Credit Suisse, secured by his Class B common stock.