WITH his flowing locks and hip clothes Adam Neumann, co-founder and chief executive of WeWork, looks less like a property baron than the frontman of a rock group. He speaks expansively on the subjects of character, destiny and God. His four-year-old daughter wanders through his office during an interview with The Economist. Yet Mr Neumann, a veteran of the Israeli navy, also has a reputation for being an intense and demanding businessman. Both sides to his character come together in WeWork. Mr Neumann thinks of his property startup as a profit-making version of Israel’s famed communal farms—a sort of “capitalist kibbutz”.
Shaking up the market for commercial offices globally is the firm’s mission. WeWork’s “co-working” offices, in more than 250 locations and over 70 cities worldwide, are a blend of small private spaces and large public areas designed to encourage a sense of community among its users. The firm rents huge chunks of space from landlords, kits them...Continue reading