'Masa is a Jedi' — Adam Neumann reportedly compared WeWork to Amazon on the advice of SoftBank's Son

YouTube/Star Wars ClipsObi-Wan Kenobi performs a Jedi mind trick in ‘Star Wars Episode IV — A New Hope.’

  • Adam Neumann reportedly compared WeWork to Amazon to make its astronomical valuation look cheap by comparison.
  • WeWork’s cofounder and then-CEO likened WeWork to Amazon when it only sold books and music, and pledged to expand from desk rentals into education, exercise, networking, and other sectors just as the e-commerce titan widened its offering, according to Fast Company.
  • “Masa is a Jedi,” Neumann told the magazine, referring to SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and the Amazon narrative he pushed for WeWork. “He has a lot of superpowers.”
  • For more stories about WeWork, click here.

Adam Neumann reportedly compared WeWork to Amazon to make its astronomical valuation look cheap by comparison.

WeWork’s cofounder and then-CEO presented the coworking startup to a handful of Wall Street analysts in July as a dry run before its IPO road show, according to Fast Company. Neumann compared WeWork to Amazon when it only sold books and music, and pledged to expand from desk rentals into education, exercise, networking, and other sectors just as the e-commerce titan widened its offering, the magazine reported.

Neumann hoped the analogy would make WeWork’s targeted public valuation of $US65 billion more digestible for investors, given Amazon was valued north of $US900 billion at the time, Fast Company said.

The pitch went well: several analysts requested selfies with Neumann afterward, a person familiar with the event told the magazine.

Masayoshi Son – CEO of SoftBank, WeWork’s biggest investor – helped Neumann and his team to craft the Amazon narrative, Fast Company reported. Before filing to go public, WeWork rebranded as The We Company to reflect its broader ambitions.

“Masa is a Jedi,” Neumann told Fast Company in January. “He has a lot of superpowers.”

However, the Jedi mind trick was revealed after WeWork filed for an IPO. Investors railed against its ballooning losses, unproven business model, limited governance, and Neumann’s overwhelming control and controversial behaviour.

The backlash meant WeWork faced the prospect of going public at a fraction of the $US47 billion private valuation it secured in January, and falling short of raising the $US3 billion needed to unlock $US6 billion in bank financing. It decided to scrap its IPO, Neumann stepped down, and the startup accepted a $US9.5 billion rescue deal from SoftBank last month.

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