- WeWork founder Adam Neumann once broke his office’s glass with a bottle of tequila, a new book says.
- “The Cult of We” says Neumann often urged staff to drink tequila shots while they were on the clock.
- It claims he missed a meeting since he had passed out in his hotel room after a night of drinking.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
WeWork founder Adam Neumann once shattered a glass panel in his office by throwing a bottle of tequila at it during a staff party, a new book says.
Another employee followed suit, and the chaos didn’t stop until the entire glass wall between Neumann’s office and his employees was destroyed, according to “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion”.
The book’s authors, Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell, write that the former WeWork CEO held the party in 2015 to celebrate a Fidelity investment that boosted the company’s valuation to $US10 ($AU14) billion.
Neumann boasted about about his partying habits, including this incident, WeWork employees previously told Insider.
One employee told Insider at the time that the tequila throwing was irresponsible, saying of the people involved, “You’re not rock stars – you left that mess for people to clean up. They thought they were so cool and they were so badass. It was really unprofessional.”
At the time, Neumann’s representative described the shattered windows as an accident. “We wanted it cleaned up by morning so that nobody would get hurt by the broken glass,” the person previously told Insider.
The incident is one of many alcohol- or drug-fueled antics at WeWork that were laid out in the book:
- On a business trip in India, Neumann reportedly missed an investor meeting because he had passed out in his hotel room after a night of drinking; security had to enter his room to find him after he failed to show up, the book says.
- At a staff party in 2014, the company’s HR head at the time got so drunk that she had to be taken to the hospital, according to the book.
- Another time, Neumann and then-CFO Michael Gross showed up at a building tour in an SUV that “reeked of marijuana,” the book says. It was still morning, but Neumann reportedly insisted that the broker they met there drink two tequila shots before the tour.
Neumann often appeared hungover in early morning meetings, the book says, adding that alcohol featured regularly in fundraising conversations. In 2015, his office reportedly featured a punching bag for his kickboxing lessons and a smoke eater to take care of marijuana smoke.
Tequila and marijuana also were common onboard WeWork’s private flights, the book says.
In 2015, a plane charter company was instructed to keep bottles of Don Julio 1942 tequila on hand “even though it’s early,” according to the book. The jets often had to be taken out of service for cleaning after the flights, due to alcohol spills, vomit, and passengers “spitting tequila on each other,” the book says. On one flight Neumann was on, crew reportedly had to break out the plane’s oxygen masks because there was so much marijuana smoke in the cabin.
WeWork’s hard-partying culture extended to lower-ranking employees, too.
Monday night all-hands meetings meant beer and the occasional tequila shots, the book says.
At a 2016 all-hands meeting, Neumann discussed layoffs made to cut costs before welcoming a member of the hip-hop Run-DMC onstage to perform as tequila made the rounds, according to the book. In another meeting, a drunk Neumann reportedly told employees to down shots and spontaneously made up new goals for lease signings, bumping annual targets by more than 20%.
The company also held annual retreats called Summer Camp for many years, which were mandatory, as one manager learned the hard way when she was fired for leaving early, the book says.
In 2018, the event featured attractions like ziplining, mini horses, paddle boarding, and EDM-themed tents, the book says. Attendees carried around bottles of rosé, and bartending stations doled out beer and wine, according to the book, which noted the prevalence of marijuana and even harder drugs.
Staffers slept in six-person tents and shared communal bathrooms. Meanwhile, Neumann and his wife, Rebekah, and kids stayed in a mini compound of luxury trailers on a hill overlooking employees, the book says.
Neumann stepped down as CEO in September 2019 at the urging of WeWork’s board. His hard-partying work philosophy, coupled with his breakneck spending of company money for both personal and professional reasons, had opened up the company to widespread scrutiny when it filed for an IPO a month earlier.
WeWork declined to comment when reached by Insider.