Someday there will be a Hollywood movie, or at the very least an incredibly entertaining documentary, on the rise and fall of WeWork founder and former CEO Adam Neumann. At one point he had grown the company into a behemoth and darling of investors, with a staggering value of $47 billion. Well, once it was discovered that the company was essentially built on quicksand, reality struck quickly, and now it’s a shell of its former self, Neumann is gone, and banks and investors that poured billions into Neumann’s grand dream are still licking their wounds.
Say this about Neumann though, he was brilliant at many things, including his ability to ask for and almost receive a staggering exit package — one that would have paid him an incredible $185 million consulting fee to essentially walk away and let the grown-ups take over.
SoftBank contributed much of the funding, and hoping to salvage something and save face in the process took over its day-to-day operations. Executive Marcelo Claure became the new executive chairman in 2019 in a last-ditch bid to essentially save the company. One of his first orders of business as the new boss? Stop payment on that incredible golden parachute Neumann had strapped on. “I think Adam may have violated some of the parts of the consulting agreement, so that’s no longer in effect,” Claure said when the topic came up at a Wall Street Journal event.
Neumann had negotiated himself a complicated and controversial exit package that included $1 billon for his shares in WeWork, a $500 million credit line and the $185 million consulting fee.
Has it ever been more lucrative and rewarding to get fired?