Adam Neumann’s chairman successor tried to poke holes in the disgraced ex-WeWork CEO’s eye-popping golden parachute on Monday.
Neumann — who late last year agreed to walk away from the company he helped found in exchange for $1.7 billion — isn’t as in-the-money as he may seem, WeWork executive chairman Marcelo Claure told CNBC.
“To say that he has walked away with over a billion dollars is totally false,” Claure said of the pay package, which has been criticized by the struggling office rental company’s rank and file.
Claure said that Neumann “will have the right to participate” in a tender along with other WeWork shareholders, which could result in him cashing in. WeWork did not make its founder a billionaire in one fell swoop, he said.
“We have no idea how much he plans to sell,” he said. “That’s why people speculate how much he can potentially walk away with, but Adam has not walked away with a billion dollars.”
But corporate governance expert Eleanor Bloxham blasted this explanation, saying that just because all the elements of the October separation agreement have yet to take place doesn’t change the fact that Neumann was offered a package worth $1.7 billion to walk away from a company he left in tatters.
“The attempt to try to put lipstick on this pig is unbelievable,” Bloxham, advisor to corporate governance consulting firm Value Alliance told The Post. “The fact that he’s getting the same deal is very, very well beyond generous.”
In October WeWork’s largest investor SoftBank — of which Claure is an executive — reportedly agreed to fork over $1 billion to buy Neumann’s shares, as well as a $185 million “consulting fee,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Neumann was also lined up to receive a $500 million line of credit from SoftBank to pay back loans to JPMorgan Chase.
Neumann received the package after the company’s plans for an IPO were thwarted thanks to non-stop headlines about Nuemann’s alleged self-dealing, erratic behavior and drug use — including a reported trans-Atlantic private jet trip after which the crew found a “sizable chunk” of marijuana hidden in a cereal box on board.
WeWork’s valuation quickly collapsed to less than $8 billion from $46 billion in the span of two months.
Claure arguing that Neumann was simply the beneficiary of a tender offer that was extended to all WeWork shareholders is a sugar coating “so sweet we’re all going to become diabetic,” Bloxham said. “Other shareholders aren’t being offered a $185 million consulting contract after they’ve tanked the company.”
WeWork employees decried Nuemann’s exit package last year in a group letter asking for “fair and reasonable separation terms” in the face of mass layoffs.
“We are not asking for this level of graft,” they wrote. “We are not the Adam Neumanns of this world — we are a diverse workforce with rents to pay, households to support and children to raise.”
WeWork in November announced that it would be laying off 2,400 employees.