WeWork’s Adam Neumann Says Observing Jewish Shabbat Helps Him Keep Ego in Check
The CEO of New York-headquartered coworking real estate company WeWork shared spiritual wisdoms during a keynote speech at a UJA Federation event in December
According to WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, observing Shabbat in compliance with Jewish orthodoxy can cure raging egos and modern age ailments. Giving the keynote speech in December at the annual dinner of philanthropic organization the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation in New York City, Neumann spoke about his first experience observing Shabbat and his deepening connection to his Jewish lineage.
Last month, WeWork nearly got itself in hot water with Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community, when community leaders learned the company’s first coworking location in the city, launched last year, is open for members wishing to work on Shabbat. WeWork’s coworking spaces are accessible with member keycards 24/7, but services by WeWork personnel are not provided on weekends.
Some of WeWork’s key investors are ultra-Orthodox Jews, including its first backer Joel Schreiber, a Hasidic Brooklyn real estate investor. Founded in 2010 by Neumann and Miguel Mckelvey, New York-headquartered WeWork has over 500 locations in 97 cities around the world, according to company statements. The Jerusalem coworking site is the company’s ninth location in Israel."WeWork aims to connect between people and cultures and our expansion in Jerusalem exemplifies our commitment to local communities," the company said in response to the outcry last month. The company eventually managed to reach an understanding with religious leaders and avoid a boycott. In November 2018, WeWork’s key beneficiary SoftBank Group Corporation committed an additional $3 billion to the coworking company. The commitment gave WeWork an estimated valuation of $42 billion. In a 2017 funding round led by a $4.4 billion investment from SoftBank, WeWork was valued at $20 billion. WeWork reported revenues of $482 million for the third quarter of 2018, and a net loss of $497 million. For the first nine months of 2018, WeWork reported $1.25 billion in revenues, with a net loss of $1.22 billion. In a 2017 interview with Forbes, Neumann said that WeWork’s $20 billion valuation is “much more based on our energy and spirituality than it is on a multiple of revenue."
In interviews throughout the years, Neumann has made multiple references to spirituality and attributed key business decisions to guidance from “spiritual teachers.”Neumann opened his speech last month on a similarly spiritual note, referencing the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which had ended the day before, as a period of miracles. “In life, it is not about being afraid of our shortcomings. It is about having the courage to be the full light that we can be,” he said. “If each one of us allowed ourselves to be our fullest… there will be peace in the world and the Messiah will be here.”