Here's how Wall Street bankers went all out to woo Adam Neumann in WeWork's doomed IPO

Here's how Wall Street bankers went all out to woo Adam Neumann in WeWork's doomed IPO
We cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann Getty

Adam Neumann was barking into a phone at one of his top deputies, livid at the headlines online and chyrons flashing on tv about his company.


It was August 14, 2019, and WeWork--the shared office space startup Neumann co-founded--had just revealed all its financials to the world as part of a planned initial public offering.

Neumann, the high-voltage 40-year-old CEO, was expecting a good day--one where a wave of positive press could propel his company to a blockbuster IPO and enhance the near-celebrity status that he and his wife Rebekah basked in. Such success had become routine: over the prior nine years, he'd easily won a top-notch roster of the world's investors, high-caliber recruits and adulatory profiles in the media to create the country's most valuable startup, worth $47 billion.

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Instead, negative press was mounting as the hours of the day ticked by, skewering WeWork for its hefty losses ($1.6 billion), the kooky language in its financial document (it was dedicated to "the energy of we"), Neumann's long list of conflicts (he rented properties to WeWork), and - glaringly - a two-sentence disclosure that WeWork had purchased the trademark to the word "We" from a Neumann-run entity for $5.9 million in stock.

On the phone, Neumann screamed at Jen Berrent, who along with CFO Artie Minson, was helming the IPO. The trademark fuss in particular had blindsided him.


Why didn't you tell me? He yelled.

Neumann was a laughing stock. And he wasn't taking it well.

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Inside WeWork's IPO meltdown: How Adam Neumann and Wall Street's chaotic partnership obliterated $40 billion in value