Wework Inc (NYSE:WE) founder and ousted CEO Adam Neumann is onto his next venture as he seeks to disrupt the residential market this time around with Flow — just as he disrupted the office market with WeWork. On Monday, venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz announced that it was investing $350 million in Neumann’s latest business venture.
Adam Neumann Builds Flow
Citing sources familiar with Andreessen Horowitz’s investment, The New York Times reported on Monday that Adam Neumann had secured a $1 billion valuation for Flow. Although details about his plans remain vague, Axios pointed to indicators suggesting that he plans to do something similar with residential real estate as what he did with office buildings, which is bringing a sense of community to his properties.
The Wall Street Journal reported in January that entities controlled by Neumann had been snapping up thousands of apartments in southern Florida, Nashville and Atlanta. Those purchases came after the implosion of WeWork and included Society Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale apartment building with 34 stories and 639 units.
Neumann's entities also reportedly bought Caoba in downtown Miami and Yard 8 in Midtown Miami. Additionally, the South Florida Business Journal reported in February that a developer linked to Neumann had secured a construction loan to build a new apartment tower next to Caoba at Miami Worldcenter.
Adam Neumann's Plans For Flow
According to Bisnow, Altman Cos. of Boca Raton had reportedly been hired to manage some of Neumann's Miami properties. Altman's Tim Peterson reportedly suggested that Neumann planned to build a more communal feel in his Miami properties, potentially through fitness events, volunteering, hosting speakers and other programs.
The New York Times also reported that Adam Neumann plans to invest a significant amount of his personal wealth in Flow via real estate and cash. Flow isn't Neumann's first venture into the housing business.
WeWork had a communal living business called WeLive, which ran into some problems that caused its parent companies to part ways with it last year.
Investing In Charisma Despite A Troubling Background
Axios suggested that Andreessen Horowitz's investment in Adam Neumann's Flow real estate venture demonstrates that the "cult of the founder" that has been common in the technology industry is back. The news site believes that "the tech industry's hunger to hand cash to people with experience turning grand ideas into big companies is so great that it will continue to overlook their failings and failures."
For example, some investors may question whether Neumann's charisma is as good as Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk's. As David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital said in his recent letter to investors, most investors seem to think that Musk can do no wrong.
Neumann resigned as CEO at WeWork almost three years ago after failing to complete the company's initial public offering. News reports about him being involved in a marijuana party on a private get and allegations that he fostered a culture of sexual harassment at WeWork led to his downfall. Other concerns raised about Neumann included potential self-dealing, which Axios said "alienated investors and the company's board."
Marc Andreessen Looks Past Adam Neumann's Failures
Amid all those news reports, WeWork's valuation tanked from a high of $48 billion to about $4 billion. The company's market cap is now a mere $3.9 billion. However, Andreessen Horowitz was unfazed about all those problems, as The New York Times said the firm had described its investment in Flow as the biggest single check it has ever written for an investment round.
In his blog post announcing the Flow investment, Marc Andreessen himself described Adam Neumann as "a visionary leader who revolutionized the second-largest asset class in the world… by bringing community and brand to an industry in which neither existed before." He added that he loves "seeing repeat-founders build on past successes by growing from lessons learned."
"For Adam, the successes and lessons are plenty, and we are excited to go on this journey with him and his colleagues building the future of living," Andreessen also wrote.