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Adam Neumann Could Return To WeWork’s Board, Which Is Without A Chairman

Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann at the Creator Awards launch in Washington, D.C., in 2017.

Adam Neumann, WeWork's co-founder, who was forced out of his role as CEO in 2019, will imminently have the right to return as an observer on the company board — which is currently lacking a chairman.

Neumann was a board observer following the company's attempted IPO blowup, but was removed as part of an agreement with SoftBank to end legal disputes last year, Bloomberg reports. His return to the board hinges on SoftBank approval, which Neumann has not requested, per the publication.

While Neumann hasn’t been able to vote on WeWork board matters since his ouster in 2019, he was able to sit as an observer until last year.

It comes as WeWork’s board is operating without a chairman. Last month, Marcelo Claure, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son's chief deputy as SoftBank chief operating officer and WeWork executive chairman, left the company after a disagreement over his compensation — he was reportedly seeking as much as $1B. 

He was also said to be clashing with Son over the future of the Latin American investment fund, which Claure had been pushing to have spun off. A committee for WeWork’s board will consider a list of possible candidates at the next board meeting on March 29. Bloomberg reported the new chair would probably be an existing board member who takes the position — Bruce Dunlevie, a venture capitalist who was an early investor and believer in Neumann, is the board's lead independent director.

The company has spent the last few years rebuilding and recalibrating after the implosion of its 2019 IPO attempt and shocks caused by the pandemic. In October, WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani said the “rationalization” of WeWork's portfolio — code for ditching millions of square feet of locations and laying off thousands of workers — was complete.

That same month, WeWork went public after completing a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. It hasn't gone as planned — the company's stock is down nearly 40% since its debut. It is nevertheless back in growth mode, having acquired Dallas-based coworking provider Common Desk a month ago.