The rise and catastrophic downfall of WeWork founder and former CEO Adam Neumann has been chronicled in gleeful detail across the international financial press in the wake of his company’s ill-fated attempt at a public offering — which resulted in disastrous revelations about the company’s mismanagement, its devaluation and, ultimately, Neumann’s resignation.
But a new Vanity Fair article by Gabriel Sherman, titled “Inside the Fall of WeWork,” asserts that Neumann’s “millennial entitlement gone insane” and guru-like “egomaniacal glamour” extended beyond the business world and into the world of Middle East diplomacy.
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Neumann, according to the Vanity Fair article, believed that WeWork “was even capable of solving the world’s thorniest problems. Last summer, some WeWork executives were shocked to discover Neumann was working on Jared Kushner’s Mideast peace effort. According to two sources, Neumann assigned WeWork’s director of development, Roni Bahar, to hire an advertising firm to produce a slick video for Kushner that would showcase what an economically transformed West Bank and Gaza would look like.”
Kushner, he added, “showed a version of the video during his speech at the White House’s peace conference in Bahrain last summer.”
Sherman reported that Neumann also told his colleagues “that he was saving the women of Saudi Arabia by working with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to offer women coding classes.”
Finally, an anecdote that connected Neumann both to Kushner and the Saudi prince involved a claim by Neumann that three people were going to save the world: Crown Prince Mohammed, Jared Kushner and Neumann himself.
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Then, after October 18, 2018, when it came to light that “Saudi agents tortured dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and carved his body with a bone saw, likely on order from the crown prince himself, Neumann told George W. Bush’s former national security adviser Stephen Hadley that everything could be worked out if bin Salman had the right mentor. Confused, Hadley asked who that person might be, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Neumann paused for a moment and said: ‘Me.’”
The Vanity Fair piece quoted a former WeWork executive explaining his former boss’ delusions of diplomatic grandeur, saying that “when Adam got in front of world leaders, it was like he started thinking he was one.” In this vein, the executive said, Neumann ended up “discussing the Syrian refugee crisis with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and urban planning with London Mayor Sadiq Khan.”