All the unusual investments WeWork’s cofounder Adam Neumann has made, from a medical marijuana provider to a wave pool maker

Adam Neumann.

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Adam Neumann.
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Fortune Brainstorm

Adam Neumann may no longer be CEO of WeWork, but the 40-year-old cofounder has a number of other personal interests and passion projects he’s been investing in for years.

WeWork long ago moved away from its all-in focus on coworking space: Its spin-off businesses under the We Company umbrella range from workout studios to private elementary schools. But in the near-decade since Neumann cofounded WeWork, he has invested millions of his company’s money and of his personal funds to pursue his wide berth of interests.

Read more: The career rise of Adam Neumann, the controversial WeWork cofounder who just stepped down as CEO

Neumann’s complex web of personal connections within WeWork have been criticized and raised concerns about conflicts of interest. His leadership style, and a recent report detailing his drug and alcohol use, have made investors question whether Neumann should remain CEO.

On Tuesday, Neumann announced he was stepping down as CEO in the company’s “best interest,” saying he was becoming “a significant distraction” to WeWork’s IPO plans. He’ll remain as non-executive chairman of the WeWork board, and was replaced by co-CEOs Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson.

Here’s what we know about the eccentric investments WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann has made, from artificial wave technology to superfood coffee drinks:


Neumann has directed WeWork to fund businesses he was personally passionate about, including a $13.8 million investment and 42% stake in a startup that makes artificial wave pools. Wavegarden, a Spanish company, builds massive wave-generating installations — there are three in existence — that cost tens of millions to construct and maintain.

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Getty

Source: Business Insider


WeWork’s investment in Wavegarden came in 2016. Neumann is an avid surfer himself, and reportedly found similarities between the feeling of community in surfing and the vibe he wanted for WeWork. At the time of the deal, WeWork said in a statement that it had “made meaningful investments to significantly enhance our product offering.”

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ANDER GILLENEA/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Wall Street Journal


In early 2019, WeWork invested $32 million into a company called Laird Superfood. The natural food business sells products like turmeric coffee creamer, “performance mushrooms,” and instant “functional latte” powder called Instafuel.

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Laird Superfood

Sources: Business Insider, Laird Superfood


The natural food business was founded by a big-wave surfer named Laird Hamilton, someone that Neumann told Fast Company he surfed with in Hawaii in December — during which the WeWork cofounder broke a finger while riding a 18-foot wave.

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Laird Hamilton.
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Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Sources: Fast Company


But Laird’s company isn’t the only superfood business in which WeWork has invested. WeWork has also put money into Kitu Life, which makes dairy-free, protein-heavy superfood coffees, creamers, and espresso.

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Kitu Life

Source: Business Insider


The investment in Kitu Life was at Neumann’s suggestion, the Journal reported. According to a podcast Kitu Life’s CEO was on last year, WeWork has been invested in the superfood coffee company since spring 2017, although it’s unclear just how much. Kitu Life also operates out of WeWork space for free, the CEO said.

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WeWork CEO Adam Neumann.
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Getty

Sources: Wall Street Journal, “Going Deep with Aaron”


These are the only three WeWork investments that news outlets have found thus far to have been made at Neumann’s suggestion. However, according to deal-tracker PitchBook, Neumann has made investments in at least eight other companies with his billions in personal wealth.

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Getty

Source: PitchBook


Back in 2013, Neumann invested in a now-defunct app called Pins, a Pinterest-like platform for organizing and tracking lists of places to remember. However, PitchBook says that Pins was acquired in 2014 by payment software platform Square.

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Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square and Twitter.
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David Becker/Getty Images

Source: PitchBook


Neumann participated in a $95 million funding round in February 2018 for coworking and hotel service called Selina — think part-WeWork, part-Airbnb for Latin America. Selina opened its first building in New York City last year, which comprises both hotel rooms and office space.

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A town in Panama called Venao, where Selina got its start in 2014.
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Shutterstock.com

Sources: PitchBook, Real Deal


Neumann put £25 million (a little over $32 million) into a British energy startup called Faraday Grid earlier this year to help the company expand globally. However, Faraday Grid collapsed the same day that WeWork filed to go public. Faraday ran out of money and went into administration, the UK-equivalent of filing for bankruptcy.

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Faraday Grid CEO Andrew Scobie.
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Facebook/Faraday Grid

Source: Business Insider


An online forum for crowdsourcing DIY projects, called Hometalk, also received an investment from Neumann. He was part of a $15 million round announced in April.

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Getty Images

Source: PitchBook


Last year, Neumann helped to fund a mobile app that lets you hear the audio from a muted TV you may stumble upon in a crowded bar or at the airport. Dubbed the “Shazam of TV,” Tunity has raised nearly $15 million to date, including the $12 million round in which Neumann participated.

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Tunity/Apple Store

Sources: PitchBook, Built in NYC


Neumann contributed to a $5.9 million round in October 2018 for skyTran, a company originally funded by the Department of Transportation that’s working on a futuristic, elevated personal rapid-transit system.

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Ken Howard/YouTube

Sources: skyTran, PitchBook


The Israel-born Neumann has also invested in a few companies born out of his own country, which boasts a lucrative startup scene. Neumann led a $1.7 million seed round last summer in EquityBee, an Israeli business that connects startup workers who want to exercise their stock options with potential investors.

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Jackal Pan via Reuters

Neumann also contributed millions last year to an Israeli medical marijuana company whose chairman is former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. Neumann participated in a $17.5 million investment round for InterCure, a public company on the Tel Aviv stock exchange.

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Reuters/Corinna Kern

Sources: PitchBook, Haaretz