WeWork co-founder and former CEO Adam Neumann once claimed that three people could save the world: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and himself.
Neumann also said, after news of the torture and slaying of dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents, that everything could be worked out if bin Salman had a ‘mentor’.
The suggestion made to George W. Bush’s former national security adviser Stephen Hadley left the ex-government official wondering who Neumann meant, according to a Vanity Fair profile of the former WeWork leader.
When pushed for an answer, Neumann paused and simply replied, ‘Me’, a source familiar with the conversation, told Vanity Fair.
Adam Neumann (pictured) tended to make wild pronouncements and was driven to want to tinker in some of the world’s most complex issues, according to a Vanity Fair profile
Neumann at one point declared that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was one of three people could ‘save the world’
White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner (left) was another person Neumann backed for being a savior to the world. The third person, Neumann claims, was himself
Neumann’s over-confidence in WeWork had even led him to believe that he could tinker with some of the world’s most complex issues, sources told the publication.
Executives at the startup were beside themselves when they learned Neumann recruited Roni Bahar, WeWork’s director of development, to hire an advertising firm to produce a video presentation for Kushner on what an economically transformed West Bank and Gaza would look like, two sources said.
Kushner ended up showing a version of the video during his speech at a White House peace conference in Bahrain last summer. Bahar told Vanity Fair that he only advised on the video and that no WeWork resources were used.
Neumann’s guru-like pronouncements even went as far as to say that he had a solution for protecting Saudi women from abuse, by telling colleagues that he would work with bin Salman to offer them coding classes, says a source.
WeWork had charmed Wall Street investors before imploding because of its 40-year-old co-founder’s millennial-influenced management style, extravagance, wild party attitude and spiritualism.
He has been called out by burned investors for going beyond the company’s purpose of offering shared office spaces around the world, which has led to massive losses.
The now ousted Neumann, who stepped down as CEO with $1.7 billion golden parachute after Japan’s tech-startup investor SoftBank stepped in to stabilize the fast-growing, but cash-burning and unprofitable WeWork, was blamed for diluting the company’s focus.
WeWork at one point had interests in a wave pool company and had even started a private school that charged $40,000 in tuition.
Meanwhile, Neumann was flying around in a $65 million Gulfstream jet, and had ownership interests in buildings leased back to WeWork.
The over-confident CEO often threw parties, knocked back shots during staff meetings, and walked barefoot through WeWork offices accompanied by Drake, Ashton Kutcher and other high-profile, celebrities.
SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son admitted this month that making poor performing investments, primarily in WeWork, had shown ‘poor judgement’. The startup then began the difficult process of righting itself by laying off thousands of employees and selling off non-core businesses.
Neumann, meanwhile, was criticized by some within his former company for misleading a workforce that believed in what had become a WeWork ‘movement’.
Neumann had an advertising agency create a video showing what an an economically-transformed West Bank and Gaza would look like and passed it on to Kushner (pictured), who presented the footage at a White House peace conference in Bahrain this summer
Neumann’s wild pronouncements event went as far to say that he had a solution for protecting Saudi women from abuse, by telling colleagues he would work with bin Salman (pictured) to offer the women coding classes
The former CEO, known for his signature t-shirt-and-jeans look, unwashed, shoulder-length hair, and surfer good looks, along with his wife Rebekah, who is first cousins with actress Gwyneth Paltrow, had even got sidetracked on their belief in Kabbalah.
The once-devout followers of the Jewish mystical faith had infused WeWork with its principles, reports Vanity Fair.
An employee told the magazine that key meetings were often held on the 18th of the month. The number is sacred in the 32 paths to wisdom in Kabbalah.
Adam Neumann had also required key executives to join in on weekly study sessions with his spiritual adviser of the time, Rabbi Eitan Yardeni.
‘It was a a lot about finding your inner peace and purpose’, the executive who attended the meetings told Vanity Fair.
SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son (pictured) admitted this month that making poor performing investments, primarily in WeWork, had shown ‘poor judgement’.
Once Softbank came on board and invested billions, Neumann was galvanized to float even higher than he had, breaking the traditions of what was expected from a typical, suit-wearing CEO.
‘Adam’s fantasy became a reality,’ a former WeWork executive told Vanity Fair.
An emboldened Neumann held meetings with world leaders, sitting down to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and meeting with London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan to talk about urban planning.
‘When Adam got in front of world leaders, it was like he started thinking he was one,’ a former executive says.
Sources say that he even had a candidate in mind for the 2020 presidential election: Democrat and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Neumann is said to have told an investor that he convinced Emanuel to run on the ‘WeWork agenda’.
Emanuel did not respond to request for comment.
A WeWork office-sharing location in New York is pictured. The company has begun the difficult process of righting itself by laying off thousands of employees and selling off non-core businesses