Behind every great man is a great woman pulling the strings, so the saying goes. And behind Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork, is his wife Rebekah Paltrow Neumann, who became increasingly involved in the company over the years to the point that she was eventually named as a third co-founder. She, Adam, and the catastrophic collapse of WeWork are the subjects of the new Apple TV+ series WeCrashed, which stars Anne Hathaway as Rebekah and Jared Leto as Adam. But nearly three years after the company’s highly publicized implosion, where is Rebekah herself now?
First, some background on Rebekah. As described in a 2020 Bustle profile, she grew up in Bedford, New York and attended a prestigious private school in the Bronx before enrolling at Cornell, where she majored in Buddhism and business. After that, she had a short stint on Wall Street, tried to make it as an actor — just like her famous cousin, Gwyneth Paltrow — took some classes at the Kabbalah Centre, and was about to start a career as a yoga instructor when she met Adam Neumann in 2008. According to Adam’s 2017 commencement address at Baruch College, Rebekah sized him up in their first meeting, saying, “You, my friend, are full of sh*t. Every single word that comes out of your mouth is fake.” As any rom-com could predict, they fell in love.
Adam launched WeWork along with co-founder Miguel McKelvey in 2010. Rebekah wasn’t technically on staff, but the company bore hallmarks of her New Age-y philosophy from the jump, and she later served as the chief brand and impact officer (though later filings claimed she was never paid a salary). Critically, it was Rebekah’s money that allowed WeWork to secure its first office space. Rebekah later claimed that she was never in it for the money (she already had that). “My intention when I met [Adam] was just, ‘How do we expand this good vibration to the planet?’”
Those good vibrations did not apparently carry over to their employees, and both Rebekah and Adam were accused of fostering a toxic work environment. “Crossing Rebekah had consequences,” Gabriel Sherman observed in a 2019 Vanity Fair exposé, citing her tendency to fire anyone who somehow displayed “bad energy.” Rebekah’s spiritual beliefs, it seems, distracted from the more logistical elements of running a business. She also helped to plan WeWork’s lavish, ruinously expensive parties — including the infamous multi-day “summer camp” retreats, which the New York Times described as “Coachella-meets-Wild Wild Country-meets-nerdy-fraternity-party.”
Rebekah was extremely involved in the company’s educational arm, WeGrow, a $42,000 per year private school. “The curriculum included classes in mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and farming. Students ate vegetarian meals and were taught Spanish and Mandarin, and parents could enroll their children in their Hebrew language immersion program. Children could even be paired with a professional mentor,” Vanity Fair reported.
But that was all before WeWork’s failed IPO in 2019, after which Adam was ousted from the company. Though the couple had to part with the brand they’d spent a decade building, they still had their money. Adam managed to secure a $1.7 billion payout and earned an additional $50 million in 2021 as part of a settlement. (Today, Adam still owns a 10% stake in WeWork, which is worth about half a billion dollars.)
Among other things, this massive sum assures that the Neumanns will continue to attempt various entrepreneurial pursuits. They moved to Israel for a while after WeWork’s meltdown, but returned to the U.S. to live in the Hamptons in June 2020, per Forbes. That same month, Rebekah acquired the rights to the curriculum of WeGrow, which fell apart in 2019. She planned to relaunch in fall 2020 under the new name of Student of Life For Life (or SOLFL, pronounced "soulful”), per Forbes. But that project seems to have stalled or been abandoned entirely, and the Instagram account has been inactive since 2019.
Adam, meanwhile, purchased $17 million worth of retail space in Miami in January 2022. (His non-compete clause with WeWork forbids office space, but residential buildings are fair game.) He still seems intent on doing some version of WeLive, which created dorms for working professionals and, like WeWork, fell apart in 2019. According to the Financial Times, Adam wasn’t ready to reveal his business plans as of March 2022, but he had a pitch prepared that involved “founding new start-ups, funding others, and creating a whole new property empire.” After seeing how unaffordable homes have become for people in cities like Nashville, Atlanta, and Austin, he claimed he can do “so much more to make these tenants’ lives better ... it felt like frankly, there’s room for more community.”
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