Adam Neumann of WeWork and Victor Fung Kwok-king, right, chair of the Fung Group, attend a signing ceremony at WeWork's Weihai Road location on April 12, 2018 in Shanghai, China.
Jackal Pan | Visual China Group | Getty Images
WeWork had a lot to say about Adam Neumann, its co-founder and CEO, as it filed the papers that started the process of going public last month. The prospectus for the first public offer referred to "Adam" 1
The company was less outspoken about Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, the leaders who took over for Neumann following the cut in the company's valuation and the rise of questions about WeWork's governance.
"Although our business has never been stronger, the control directed at me has been a significant distraction in recent weeks," Neumann was quoted in a statement on Tuesday.
However, the company previously said Neumann was crucial to its success. "Adam has been the key to setting our vision, strategic direction and execution priorities," said S-1. "If Adam does not continue to serve as our CEO, it could have a material adverse effect on our business."
In fact, an analysis of IPO records for technology companies with known CEOs suggests an unusual amount of corporate attention about Neumann, who had been WeWork's leader since its founding in 2010. The number of his IPO reviews stood out to marketing professor Scott Galloway , New York University, which revealed in a tweet Tuesday that the references were greater than similar mentions from leaders in Lyft (Logan Green and John Zimmer), Slack (Stewart Butterfield), Uber (Dara Khosrowshahi) and Zoom (Eric Yuan).
The We Company document also contained 65 references to "Neumann", including some concerning his wife, fellow Rebekah Neumann.
Many other successful technology companies have had charismatic CEOs. However, none of them made so many references to these executives in their IPO. Here is a selection:
- Apple (1980): Three references to "Steve", eight references to "Jobs"
- Microsoft (1986): 23 references to "Gates" (there are also two references to "Bill, "but they're not about him – one is about the 1985 tax reform proposal)
- Amazon (1997): 96 references to" Jeffrey, "191 references to" Bezos "
- Netflix (2000): 60 references to" Reed ", 65 references to" Hastings "
- Google (2004): 58 references to" Eric ", 22 references to" Schmidt "(unlike Adam Neumann, Schmidt was not a founder.)
- Tesla (2010) : 48 references to "Elon," 111 references to "Musk"
- Facebook (2012): 33 references to "Mark", 113 references to "Zuckerberg" (three references are to Mark's sister, Randi)
Maybe collapse of WeWork's IPO will end the tech world's tendency to idolize visionary founders while underestimating the many other factors, such as recruitment, customer okus and strong business management, which helps turn art-ups into giants.
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