How SoftBank and WeWork Played Silicon Valley and Wall Street

The day of Daredevil founders and investors is done

Steve LeVine
Marker
Published in
7 min readSep 27, 2019

--

Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

InIn June 2017, Adam Neumann, the founder and CEO of WeWork, stood in cap and gown before the graduating class of Baruch College. More than a decade earlier, he said, he had dropped out of Baruch, realizing he had wasted several semesters partying and chasing girls, and decided to do business. Now, he was finally receiving his diploma, and had some advice to dispense to classmates — “my blueprint” for success.

The secret, he said, was to pursue “a meaningful life.” Growing up in Israel watching American television, Neumann said, he had divined all the wrong lessons. He had made heroes of pop culture figures who were “materialistic, superficial, and egocentrical… I didn’t understand what truly mattered.” But if you had purpose, devised a business model that made sense, and treated employees well, he said, “I guarantee you profits will come.”

Only, for Neumann, profits didn’t come. Neither, it appears from recent accounts of his lifestyle, would he truly shake his childhood admiration for those film idols. Instead, today, ousted from control of his company, Neumann finds himself at the center of a tale of vanity-laden excess and rocket-fueled valuations at the apex of Silicon Valley, all of it cocooned in…

--

--

Steve LeVine
Marker
Writer for

Editor at Large, Medium, covering the turbulence all around us, electric vehicles, batteries, social trends. Writing The Mobilist. Ex-Axios, Quartz, WSJ, NYT.