While executives were preparing paperwork for a public offering that would enrich WeWork cofounder and CEO at the time Adam Neumann, he was on a surfing trip in the Maldives, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Much of the preparation and drafting of WeWork's IPO paperwork, or S-1, took place at Neumann's Hamptons home, according to the WSJ's Maureen Farrell, Liz Hoffman, Eliot Brown and David Benoit.
It was there that Neumann invited the heads of the two stock exchanges competing for the WeWork listing — the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq — and asked them to pledge their support to environmental causes, such as eliminating meat and banning single use plastics, the WSJ reported, citing anonymous sources.
But at one point in the drawn-out S-1 preparation process, Neumann was thousands of miles away from the Hamptons, surfing in the small Indian Ocean island republic of the Maldives. Reluctant to cut the trip short and miss out on the swell, Neumann had a WeWork employee fly to the Maldives to brief him, according to the report.
The surf trip came at a time when WeWork seemed to be barreling towards a giant public offering that would value the company at as much as $100 billion and make its thousands of employees rich. But the S-1 prospectus that was eventually created revealed a company that was losing billions of dollars and which let Neumann run things in questionable ways.
The paperwork that was publicly filed on August 14 revealed that Neumann owned many of the buildings WeWork rented, and he made millions by leasing his own buildings. He also trademarked the word "We," and then had the company pay him nearly $6 million to use the term, although he eventually gave the money back after criticisms.
Since then, the IPO has been shelved, Neumann has been replaced at the top job and SoftBank has taken control of the company.
What happens next is anyone's guess. But WeWork's new owners have a lot of work to do, including figuring out what to do with some of the company's Neumann invested in, or acquired, on WeWork's behalf. Among those: Wavegarden, a Spanish wave pool company Neumann put $14 million into because he reportedly wanted WeWork to embody the type of community he found in surfing.
WeWork declined to comment.