lunes, 30 de septiembre de 2019

Shared office company’s new leadership to push out nearly 20 employees tied to former chief Adam Neumann

The Wall Street Journal

The post- Adam Neumann era at WeWork has begun.

In the days since Mr. Neumann stepped down as chief executive, the company’s new leaders have moved to pare its headcount and assets, including advancing plans Thursday to purge nearly 20 friends and family members of Mr. Neumann and his wife, Rebekah Neumann, according to people familiar with the matter.

The ex-CEO’s replacements atop We Co., the shared-office company’s parent, are expected to trim thousands of positions from its staff of more than 12,000 and are looking to sell businesses outside its core leasing operation, people familiar with the matter have said. Their goal is to prepare a slimmed-down company for a public offering that would raise much-needed cash, likely next year.

The highest-placed executive among those expected to depart is Michael Gross, a vice chairman who has been a longtime ally and friend of Mr. Neumann’s.

Another slated to leave is Chris Hill, the company’s chief product officer who is also Ms. Neumann’s brother-in-law, the people said. Ms. Neumann, a co-founder who also held the title of chief brand and impact officer, is also departing, people familiar with the matter said this week.

Also out are some of the 10-plus staffers who worked directly with Mr. Neumann in a group that was referred to internally as the “oval office” and included some friends who worked on personal deals for him.

In stepping down as CEO this week, Mr. Neumann also ceded majority control of the company after a tumultuous stretch in which We was forced to shelve a highly anticipated initial public offering when prospective investors balked at its sought-after valuation and governance.

That resistance helped galvanize support among Mr. Neumann’s fellow directors for a leadership change. He will remain nonexecutive chairman of the New York company.

We’s new co-chief executives, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, are planning to chart a new course for the formerly freewheeling company, which has grown rapidly but also generated steep losses.

It is a wide-ranging empire that Mr. Neumann frequently sought to expand into an eclectic mix of businesses. They include preschool and elementary education unit WeGrow, a fitness club called Rise by We and a rental subsidiary for dormlike apartments called WeLive. We spent over $500 million buying tech-related businesses including event-planning website Meetup.com and a search-engine optimization company, Conductor.

Among assets slated for the auction block, people familiar with the matter said: the company’s Gulfstream G650ER, a top-of-the-line private jet it bought last year for more than $60 million. The plane was a favorite of Mr. Neumann’s, who would often use it to zip between his homes in the Bay Area and New York.

It isn’t known what might become of some of his other luxuries. Mr. Neumann’s staff included at least one driver for the $100,000-plus Maybach luxury car he frequently traveled in.

Attached to his office was a small spa and ice bath, according to people familiar with the matter. The office is in the process of being cleaned up, and as a director, Mr. Neumann’s access to the company’s facilities will be more restricted, the people said.

By Eliot Brown, Anupreeta Das and Maureen Farrell