Adam Neumann: what is Flow, WeWork founder’s new venture explained, who is its backer Andreessen Horowitz?

Neumann was recently portrayed by Jared Leto in Apple TV+ drama series WeCrashed

WeWork founder Adam Neumann has received major backing for a new company that will operate in the home letting market.

Known as Flow, the business has had a $350 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz - a major US venture capital firm - according to the New York Times.

Neumann shot to fame with WeWork in the 2010s and was portrayed by Jared Leto in high-profile Apple TV+ show WeCrashed, which told the story of the office space provider’s rise and fall.

But who exactly is he - and what is his new venture going to do?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Adam Neumann wants to revolutionise the renting market (image: Getty Images)

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Who is Adam Neumann?

Adam Neumann, 43, is an Israeli-born businessman.

Raised in Tel Aviv, he moved to the US briefly as a child before returning home.

He served in the Israeli Navy for several years, and reached the rank of captain.

After studying at a New York business school, Neumann founded several minor companies before co-founding WeWork in 2010 with business partner Miguel McKelvey.

The pair raised more than $10 billion to fund the business, which was valued at $47 billion at one stage.

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Neumann served as its CEO.

The working culture at WeWork was the subject of major criticism and lawsuits under the leadership of Adam Neumann (image: Getty Images)

While all appeared to be running smoothly on the outside, employees have since described it as being akin to a cult.

Neumann was characterised as a party animal who would shriek at staff if his favourite tequila was not available in every WeWork office, and would schedule meetings in the early hours of the morning.

In one famous incident that demonstrated the industrial levels of excess at the firm, Neumann threw a 72-hour party for 8,000 employees that included a set from the singer Lorde, beatboxing workshops and lakeside meditation sessions.

The company came crashing down in 2019, when a disastrous IPO revealed major problems with WeWork’s finances and saw its valuation fall to around $10 billion.

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It is now worth around $4 billion (£3.3 billion).

Adam Neumann was accused of shrieking at staff if his favourite tequila wasn't available (image: Getty Images)

Lawsuits had also been filed against the company on the grounds of sexual harrassment and ageism.

Neumann was ousted with a golden goodbye amounting to around $1 billion.

Since 2019, the entrepreneur has been selling off real estate and has worked on several other ventures, including FlowCarbon - a crypto-based trading platform for carbon offsetting credits.

However, this venture has hit trouble in recent months given the widespread crash in cryptocurrencies.

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Despite his controversial image, Neumann is being rehabilitated by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who suggested in a blog that the WeWork founder has learnt his lesson.

Neumann was also described by Andreessen as the one person to have “fundamentally redesigned the office experience and led a paradigm-changing global company in the process.”

Andreessen Horowitz was an early backer of Facebook (image: Getty Images)

What is Flow?

Flow is a property letting company that is expected to launch in 2023 but is already estimated to be worth $1 billion.

While precise details are still fairly scant, it is expected to operate as something akin to a landlord and letting agency - while also offering a social aspect to tenants.

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It will operate 3,000 flats Adam Neumann has bought in US cities Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta and Nashville and will also offer its services to new developments and landlords.

Neumann is also reportedly planning to make a major cash investment in Flow.

Adam Neumann has bought up thousands of properties in Miami (image: Getty Images)

As with WeWork, the idea appears to involve creating a standardised service and community under one branded banner.

Neumann has received around $350 million from Andreessen Horowitz - the largest amount of the venture capitalist has ever given to a company in a single round of funding.

The firm’s co-founder Marc Andreessen is expected to join Flow’s board.

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Andreessen said in a blog post on Andreessen Horowitz’s site that he was interested in the startup because he believes the lettings market can be disrupted - particularly when it comes to its social side.

Marc Andreessen has said Adam Neumann’s new venture will disrupt renting (image: Getty Images)

It is something he says has become even truer now that people are working from home more in the wake of Covid-19.

“Many people will live in places far away from where they work and many more will shift to a hybrid environment,” Andreessen wrote.

“As a result, they will experience much less, if any, of the in-office social bonding and friendships that local workers enjoy.

“For many of these people, increased screentime and reduced in-person interaction will cause challenges that are not just limited to work, such as alienation and loneliness. This is not a good path for anyone and it needs to be addressed directly, right now.”

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Andreessen also hinted that Flow would seek to solve the problem of renters receiving no investment benefit from paying rent.

“You can pay rent for decades and still own zero equity — nothing,” he said.

“In a world where limited access to homeownership continues to be a driving force behind inequality and anxiety, giving renters a sense of security, community and genuine ownership has transformative power for our society.”

Who is Flow backer Andreessen Horowitz?

Andreessen Horowitz is a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that is considered to be royalty by entrepreneurs and startups.

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Venture capitalists are people or companies who take on risky investments in new or quickly expanding businesses - particularly those in the tech sphere.

Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have previously relied on venture capital to respectively get Tesla and Facebook off the ground.

The latter received backing from Andreessen Horowitz, which has also invested in Twitter, Airbnb, Skype, Foursquare and Coinbase.

It was founded in 2009 by American businessmen Marc Andreeessen and Ben Horowitz.

Ben Horowitz is a co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz (image: Getty Images)

Andreessen started out as a computer scientist before helping to get web browser Netscape off the ground in the 1990s.

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After AOL bought the firm for more than $4 billion in 1999, Andreessen went on to co-found software service provider Opsware, which was sold to Hewlett Packard (HP) for $1.6 billion in 2007.

Ben Horowitz was also a co-founder of Opsware and has worked under Andreessen at Netscape.

Having served as Opsware’s CEO and president, he worked for HP in senior roles for a year before setting up Andreessen Horowitz with his business partner.

On the firm’s website, it says it has $35 billion in assets and aims to support entrepreneurs and start-ups in fields ranging from healthcare, crypto and gaming.