But like any true gig economy worker, Neumann has a second job, according to a report earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal. Namely, as an owner and landlord of office buildings—including buildings worth tens of millions of dollars that have leased space to WeWork. From the perspective of Neumann, the more money WeWork pays for those leases, the better. Which, you may realize, leaves him diametrically opposed to those investors whose best interests he's supposed to be protecting.
This bit of a bombshell comes a little more than a week after news emerged that SoftBank had abandoned plans to invest as much as $20 billion in WeWork, instead staking the co-working company with a more modest $2 billion. Still, the deal reportedly valued WeWork at $47 billion, up from a $21.2 billion figure in 2017 and into the sort of rarified air only a handful of VC-backed companies have ever reached.
SoftBank is now far and away the company's biggest backer, but a handful of other major names from Silicon Valley and beyond still own stakes in WeWork. How will they feel about Neumann working from both sides of the negotiating table? Will the business keep raising mounds of new private funding? Will a recently announced change in name to The We Company assuage concerns that it's nothing more than an overhyped and well-marketed real estate business?
The report on Neumann's wheeling and dealing is one of six big things to know from the past week in VC: