Marcelo Claure thinks Adam Neumann is misunderstood and that the prospects for WeWork remain strong.
The new executive chairman of WeWork spoke to the New York Times for his first interview since SoftBank effectively took over the company. He said he still values Neumann’s opinion a lot and meets with him frequently outside of the office, but he also recounted telling Neumann he needed to step down.
“I said: ‘Adam, we trusted you. We gave you everything. And it’s fair to say things didn’t work out the way we originally planned,’” Claure said. “‘Now it’s your turn to turn around and basically pay back that trust and provide us with a proxy of all of your shares.’”
Neumann didn’t give it back so much as sold it: He is likely to receive about $1 billion from SoftBank, a payoff that has stirred up anger inside and outside of the company, particularly as it lays off several thousand employees including 911 in New York City. Claure said there was little SoftBank could do, given that it can’t stop Neumann from selling some of his shares as part of SoftBank’s $3 billion tender offer to all shareholders.
He also said the company may have to renegotiate some leases with landlords if some of the new WeWork locations do not attract enough members.
“We’ve been very straight with landlords and said, ‘Look, this is its own independent business,’ and if things don’t work out, sure, we’ll have conversations with landlords,” he told the Times. “There will be some of that that’s starting soon.” [NYT] — Eddie Small