Mounting speculation about WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann leaving his role as CEO ended when the company made his departure official earlier this week. But the move gave rise to new uncertainty about the two executives named to replace him and how they would reverse the office-space giant’s deteriorating fortunes.
With Neumann relegated to the role of non-executive chairman, WeWork CFO Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, a vice chairman, take over as co-CEOs. WeWork declined to make Minson and Gunningham available for comment, but in a statement shortly after their appointments, the executives said it was “an incredible honor to lead WeWork during this important moment in the company’s history.”
“Important” is an understatement. The company’s planned initial public offering went horribly awry this summer, raising questions about how WeWork will meet its massive lease obligations in the months ahead and eventually turn a profit. Moreover, it has been plagued by a series of executive departures. On Wednesday night alone pink slips were drawn up for vice chairman Michael Gross, VP of operations and special projects Zvika Shachar and director of development Roni Bahar.
Despite the turmoil, Minson and Gunningham have been described as steadying presences and capable. In a letter to employees reported by Bloomberg, they said they anticipate “difficult decisions ahead” at the company and want employees to focus on their day-to-day work.
Here’s what you need to know about the new executives:
The 48-year-old Minson will oversee the financial, legal, human resources, real estate, communications and corporate-development functions at WeWork. He is a graduate of Columbia Business School whose previous jobs include COO at AOL and CFO at Time Warner Cable. He joined WeWork in 2015 as president and COO.
Minson was initially tasked with expanding WeWork’s global presence and managing its business development and administrative functions. He became the company’s CFO in June 2016, and sources have described him as a calm and level-headed worker with a reputation for being “the adult in the room.”
He told Business Insider this spring that WeWork was different from startups like Uber and Airbnb in that it faced few issues with government regulations and community resistance. He also expressed confidence that the firm could continue its rapid growth.
“If you look at the 82,000 desks we opened this quarter, those desks will generate $9 billion of revenue over their life and $2 billion of profit,” he said.
He expressed similar confidence about the company’s growth prospects in a CNBC interview in May, urging investors to view losses as “investments” after WeWork reported $264 million in red ink during the first quarter.
Gunningham, 57, will focus on product, technology, design and marketing. He grew up in Argentina and attended Stanford University, and his background is mostly in technology companies. His prior jobs include vice president at Apple, CEO of Peace Software and senior vice president of Amazon Marketplace, where he worked before joining WeWork last year.
Gunningham was a very close adviser to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos while at the company and became part of his elite group of top lieutenants known as the “S-team,” according to CNBC. At WeWork he was responsible for making the leasing process more technologically friendly and eventually had more than 1,000 people under him.
Employees were reportedly relieved when Gunningham joined the firm because he was seen as a competent professional with a logical approach to problems.
Like Minson, he was viewed as an “adult” at the company. One former executive told Business Insider that his appointment as co-CEO was not a surprise.
“We always kind of assumed [that] pre-IPO, Adam would step down and Sebastian would step up as CEO,” the former employee said.