Adam Neumann has become a chilling example of megalomania on the American corporate scene in recent years.

WeWork, the office broker he co-founded, first became one of the highest-rated start-ups on the promise of revolutionizing the world of work, but then experienced a deep fall when it wanted to go public in 2019.

At the time, the stock exchange prospectus not only revealed high losses, but also an alarming understanding of “corporate governance”.

Roland Lindner

Business correspondent in New York.

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Neumann had secured enormous power through a special stock structure, and shady dealings between him and WeWork were publicized, giving the impression that the company was his personal convenience store.

The IPO was called off and Neumann resigned, but left WeWork with a hefty severance package.

The rise and fall of WeWork became Hollywood stuff, and there was a documentary and TV series starring Jared Leto as von Neumann.

prominent financiers

The inglorious end at WeWork hasn't stopped Neumann from trying again as an entrepreneur, and apparently it hasn't stopped financiers from supporting him either.

Now Andreessen Horowitz, one of the most prominent venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, has announced an investment in Neumann's new company Flow.

It is not just any participation for them, but apparently the largest in their history so far.

She didn't give any numbers herself, but according to a report in the New York Times, she's investing $350 million.

It values ​​Flow at more than $1 billion, elevating it to the rank of a "unicorn," even though it's not officially operational yet.

This is only planned for 2023, as can be read on a previously sparse website.

The importance that Andreessen Horowitz attaches to the new investment is also shown by the fact that co-founder Marc Andreessen commented in detail on this in a blog entry.

He showered Neumann with praise and only hinted at the controversy.

Andreessen called Neumann a "visionary" who "revolutionized" the market for commercial real estate.

In all the reporting about Neumann, the fact that he is the only person who has developed a "fundamentally new design" for the office world is "often not sufficiently acknowledged".

He led a global company that “shifted paradigms”.

"We love it when serial founders build on past successes by developing lessons learned." For Neumann, there were "plenty of successes and lessons".

With Flow, Neumann is back on the real estate market, but this time it's not about offices, it's about apartments.

His exact plans are not yet known, but as the "New York Times" writes, he wants to give residential properties a branding similar to that of hotels, while offering various services and community activities.

He himself has purchased several thousand apartments in cities such as Miami, Atlanta and Nashville, which he plans to bring under Flow's management, and he also wants to offer his company's services to other real estate developers.

Flow is reminiscent of Welive, a former WeWork side project that was also centered around apartment rentals and that featured community activities among residents.

Flow isn't Neumann's only project since leaving WeWork.

He is also one of the co-founders of Flowcarbon, a company specializing in trading carbon credits via blockchain technology.

Andreessen Horowitz has also invested in Flowcarbon.

Neumann's old company, WeWork, has now made it public. Last fall, it merged with a shell company, a so-called Spac.

The company today has a market cap of $4 billion.

In early 2019, when Neumann was still at the helm, it was once valued at $47 billion in an over-the-counter funding round.

The generous round of financing for Neumann's new company caused quite a stir in the industry - and also drew criticism from Germany.

Christian Miele, chairman of the Federal Association of German Startups, called them “questionable to disgusting” in a Linkedin entry.

It is up to founders like Neumann why there is skepticism about entrepreneurs in society.

It is therefore important that Europe takes a different path than Silicon Valley.

"Our startup ecosystem should produce similarly successful, but above all responsible founding teams."