WeWork is booting Adam Neumann’s friends

The execs were seen to be aligned with Adam Neumann, and include vice chairman Michael Gross

Michael Gross, Zvika Shachar, and Roni Bahar (Credit: NOAH Conerence via YouTube,  LinkedIn, Presidio)
Michael Gross, Zvika Shachar, and Roni Bahar (Credit: NOAH Conerence via YouTube,  LinkedIn, Presidio)

UPDATED, Sept. 26, 2019, 5:27 p.m.: WeWork is clearing house of Adam Neumman’s closest allies.

At least two executives were told Wednesday night that their tenure with the company is up, people familiar with the matter told The Real Deal. While a source said some of the execs were still at WeWork as of Thursday afternoon, another source said the company was in the process of negotiating their exit packages.

The executives, who are seen to be aligned with former CEO Adam Neumann, include vice chairman Michael Gross, VP of operations and special projects Zvika Shachar, and director of development Roni Bahar.

Late Thursday afternoon, after this story was published, the Wall Street Journal reported that 20 allies of Neumann and his wife Rebekah would be laid off. The outlet reported that Rebekah, herself a co-founder, would be forced out. Her brother-in-law, Chris Hill, the chief product officer, will also be leaving. The Journal reported that 10-plus staffers who worked with Adam Neumann directly as part of a group internally called “the oval office,” would be headed for the exits.

Earlier this week, Neumann, WeWork’s charismatic co-founder and leader, stepped down from his role following a month of scrutiny from investors and an embarrassing attempt to take the company public. He ultimately caved to pressure from the company’s largest investor SoftBank, which had invested $10 billion in the company and had supported his departure.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Neumann is now non-executive chairman of the board.

WeWork declined to comment, and declined to make the three departing executives available for comment.

The trio are the latest in a string of high-profile departures at WeWork in recent months. In particular, they were seen as being staunchly aligned with Neumann; Shachar was a childhood friend. The executives were first reported to be under scrutiny by Bloomberg.

A TRD report Wednesday cited interviews with other former executives who described how Neumann surrounded himself with “yes people” who enabled his actions and feared running afoul of him. Blame was also directed at the company board, investors and the current co-CEOs, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham.

Before Neumann announced his demotion Tuesday, at least half a dozen others left the company in preceding months, including New York real estate veteran Wendy Silverstein, who co-led WeWork’s property investment vehicle ARK.

Clarification: This story has been updated to include further details of the executives’ employment status.