Ousted WeWork CEO Adam Neumann increasingly saw himself as a global leader who partnered with Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman and even worked on the Trump administration’s peace plan, a Vanity Fair exposé of the company’s collapse has revealed.
According to the magazine, in an article dated November 21 about the coworking startup’s implosion in recent months, company executives “were shocked to discover” Neumann’s role in the plan.
Last summer, they found out that Neumann had been helping Kushner, son-in-law and adviser to US President Donald Trump, to develop the repeatedly delayed plan, ironically dubbed the Deal of the Century.
“According to two sources, Neumann assigned WeWork’s director of development, Roni Bahar, to hire an advertising firm to produce a slick video for Kushner that would showcase what an economically transformed West Bank and Gaza would look like,” Vanity Fair reported.
Bahar told the magazine he only “advised” on the video, “and no WeWork resources were used,” reporter Gabriel Sherman wrote.
The video was part of Kushner’s presentation at a conference in Bahrain in the summer on the economic aspects of the peace plan.
Neumann, born and raised on a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip, had taken the New York real estate market and the high-tech startup world by storm with his company, but rising losses and management chaos led to negative exposure and an aborted IPO in recent months, and eventually to Neumann’s ouster last month as CEO.
According to Vanity Fair, Neumann and his wife Rebekah “were devout followers of Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical faith, and it infused WeWork’s office culture. One employee said key meetings were often scheduled for the 18th of the month because 18 is a sacred number in Kabbalah’s 32 paths to wisdom. Adam encouraged senior WeWork executives to participate in weekly study sessions with his spiritual adviser at the time, Rabbi Eitan Yardeni.”
As the company grew, especially after a $4.4 billion investment from Japan’s SoftBank, Neumann’s “messianism became more like megalomania,” the article said, noting that he discussed the Syrian refugee crisis with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and urban planning with London mayor Sadiq Khan. “When Adam got in front of world leaders, it was like he started thinking he was one,” a former executive told Vanity Fair..
The article cited unnamed former WeWork employees, investors and executives relating things they’d allegedly heard from Neumann, including “that he’d convinced Rahm Emanuel to run for president in 2020 on the ‘WeWork Agenda,'” and that he’d purportedly “told colleagues that he was saving the women of Saudi Arabia by working with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to offer women coding classes.”
In one meeting, the article claimed, “Neumann said three people were going to save the world: bin Salman, Jared Kushner, and Neumann.”
And after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, widely blamed on bin Salman, Neumann reportedly told George W. Bush’s former national security adviser Stephen Hadley that everything could be worked out if bin Salman only had the right mentor — him.