JTA — An embarrassing IPO devaluation and a bombshell Wall Street Journal report have the business world buzzing about We Co., the parent company of WeWork, the mammoth co-working space brand co-founded by Israeli entrepreneur Adam Neumann.
In January, the company was expected to be valued at $47 billion. Since then, troubling information about its business model and company culture — one of excess, promoted by Neumann — has caused that number to drop by as much two-thirds.
The Journal report, published Wednesday, fills in a lot of details about Neumann’s “unorthodox” practices and tendencies. Vanity Fair listed out the most shocking anecdotes from the piece, including one in which Neumann left a stuffed box of marijuana on a private plane he flew to Israel for the trip back. Neumann also banned company employees from eating meat, then allegedly got caught eating meat afterward, and threw a lavish party (featuring a member of Run-DMC) just minutes after firing 7 percent of the company’s staff. The list goes on.
The Journal report’s broader narrative paints a very unflattering portrait of Neumann, 40, a 6-foot-5 Israeli who grew up on a kibbutz, portraying him as a reckless spender and potentially unethical businessman who is comically ambitious. He wants to be the world’s first trillionaire, for instance.
There’s another goal Neumann apparently has in mind: being the leader of Israel.
“He told at least one person directly that his ambitions included becoming Israel’s prime minister,” Eliot Brown wrote. “More recently, he said that if he ran for anything, it would be president of the world, according to another person who spoke with him.”