AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
- WeWork‘s chief exec Adam Neumann is throwing company money at a hodge-podge of far-flung projects which seem to primarily align around his personal interests, the Wall Street Journal detailed on Tuesday.
- The avid surfer has led WeWork to invest tens of millions of dollars into a wave pool company and into big-wave legend Laird Hamilton’s natural food company.
- After Neumann and his wife had trouble finding schooling options for their five children in Manhattan, Neumann decided to start his own private elementary school called WeGrow.
- Future investments may include a move into banking or private jets, which the 38-year-old chief exec has been known to ride regularly.
"Do what you love" may be good career advice for some. But when you’re the CEO and hold the majority stake in a multi-billion dollar company, following your passions can get complicated.
WeWork‘s chief exec Adam Neumann finds himself in murky waters these days, as the avid surfer’s investment thesis seems to be throwing company money behind a hodge-podge set of projects which appear to only align around his personal interests, as detailed in a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday.
In 2016, Neumann — who’s been known to surf near Long Island before work — led WeWork to invest $13.8 million in cash and stock for a stake in the Spanish wave pool company, Wavegarden. Neumann has said surfing helps spread a spirit of community, which he wants to be core to the WeWork culture, according to the report.
Also tied to his love for surfing was WeWork’s $32 million investment in big-wave legend Laird Hamilton’s natural food company, Laird Superfood, which touts turmeric coffee creamer and "performance mushrooms" amongst its product offerings.
Other investments close to Neumann’s interests include an energy-drink company called Kitu Life and the creation of a private elementary school in Manhattan, named WeGrow (Neumann and his wife had reportedly had trouble finding schooling options for their five children, which sparked the WeGrow idea).
Future investments according to former employees cited in the report may include a move into banking or private jets, which the 38-year-old chief exec has been known to ride regularly.
Though WeWork recently rebranded to The We Company, in an attempt to move beyond a co-working space provider, the sprawling list of investments may raise concerns about the company’s focus and investing discipline, especially if the company decides to go public.
Already investors have raised concerns over another one of Neumann’s business practices, in which he has been renting out office space that he partially owns to WeWork. Investors told The Journal in January that the situation could create a conflict of interest because if those buildings were to raise their rents, Neumann could stand to benefit.
A WeWork representative was not immediately available for comment.
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