Adam Neumann was poised to become one of the world’s richest entrepreneurs.

This year, more than a decade after launching WeWork, the space-sharing real estate firm planned to go public with some bankers saying its valuation as a listed company could soon reach $65 billion. That would have pegged Neumann’s current 22% stake in the unprofitable business at $14 billion, at least on paper, catapulting him into the ranks of the world’s 150 richest people.

But Neumann, 40, may have to make do with a more modest fortune after a rough run-up to WeWork parent We Co.’s initial public offering that has left creditors questioning where the firm will turn next for financing as it continues to burn cash and its bonds tumble. The IPO prospects soured further after the disclosure of unorthodox financial dealings between Neumann and the company, including personal loans, real estate leases and stock sales.

Regulatory filings show that early investor Fidelity Investments cut its valuation on We Co. to $18.3 billion in March, well before Wall Street began to scale back its own expectations for an IPO. The predicted valuation is now as low as $15 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter. That would leave Neumann with a stake of about $3 billion -- not enough for a listing in the 500-member Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Still, that’s nothing to sneeze at, particularly for someone who spent part of his childhood on a kibbutz. Neumann moved to New York from Israel in 2001 to have fun and make a lot of money, as he put it in a commencement address at Baruch College, his alma mater. Then he met Rebekah, his future wife, who’s listed in a prospectus as a co-founder, chief brand and impact officer, and a “strategic thought partner.”

A company spokesman declined to comment.

Neumann and co-founder Miguel McKelvey started WeWork after sharing an office space in Brooklyn. McKelvey, like Neumann, spent part of his childhood in a communal environment: a collective in Oregon.

“We are making a capitalist kibbutz,” Neumann said in a 2017 interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

He moved to New York after five years in the Israeli Navy and, in 2002, enrolled at Baruch College, where he studied entrepreneurship and marketing. After a couple of failed product launches, including a women’s shoe line and baby pants with knee pads, he dropped out to focus on entrepreneurial ventures full time.

Dalai Lama
Rebekah Neumann has studied under the Dalai Lama and “Mother Nature herself,” according to a profile on the website of WeGrow, a private elementary school network she founded. WeGrow tuition costs as much as $48,000 for the 2020-21 school year, with a curriculum that includes yoga and meat-free community lunches.

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