WeWork Co-Founder and CEO Steps Down

WeWork office.jpg

WeWork announced that Adam Neumann will leave his position after controversy about the company’s financial situation and the co-founder and CEO’s behavior. Within a week, the company went from preparing for an IPO to facing criticism that led to this ouster and a delayed public offering.

The company valuation has been reduced from about $47 to $15 billion based on governance issues and what the Wall Street Journal calls “ballooning losses.” The Journal also reported on Neumann’s “eccentric behavior,” including a heavy-party lifestyle that recently involved bring marijuana on a plane to Israel and saying that he might like to be the prime minister .

In its news release, WeWork provided scant information and a few quotations, including this from Neumann:

“As co-founder of WeWork, I am so proud of this team and the incredible company that we have built over the last decade. Our global platform now spans 111 cities in 29 countries, serving more than 527,000 members each day. While our business has never been stronger, in recent weeks, the scrutiny directed toward me has become a significant distraction, and I have decided that it is in the best interest of the company to step down as chief executive. Thank you to my colleagues, our members, our landlord partners, and our investors for continuing to believe in this great business.”

Neumann image source.

WeWork office image source.

Discussion:

  • Compare the company’s news release to others announcing CEO departures. How does this one differ, and why would the company take this approach?

  • What are the communication objectives of Neumann’s statement? How well does his quote meet those objectives? What else, if anything, should Neumann say or do?