WeWork just removed cofounder Rebekah Paltrow Neumann from succession planning and banned her from the board. Meet the former actress, who is CEO Adam Neumann's 'strategic thought partner'

Business Insider Lifestyle 2 months ago

Rebekah Paltrow Neumann once wanted to be an actress, she told Fast Company. Later, she became a certified yoga instructor.

She went on to become the chief brand and impact officer of The We Company, which filed to go public in August. However, investor pushback has led WeWork to strip back her influence over the company, including removing her from succession planning in the event of the death of her husband, CEO Adam Neumann, and banning her and members of her family from serving on the board, a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission September 13 shows.

Paltrow Neumann cofounded the company — originally known by its most famous business, WeWork — alongside her husband, Adam Neumann, and Miguel McKelvey in 2010. She was also an early employee at the first coworking company Adam Neumann and McKelvey founded, Greendesk, according to Fast Company.

Ahead of The We Company's initial public offering, Paltrow Neumann has turned her attention to WeGrow, the private primary school run by the company.

Neumann declined to comment through a WeWork representative.

Keep reading for a look at the life of Rebekah Paltrow Neumann.

Rebekah Paltrow Neumann is described in The We Company's S-1 filing as one of the cofounders and CEO Adam Neumann's "strategic thought partner."

Rebekah Paltrow Neumann is described in The We Company's S-1 filing as one of the cofounders and CEO Adam Neumann's
SEC

"Rebekah has been a strategic thought partner to Adam since our founding and has actively shaped the mission and strategy of The We Company and its global impact agenda, as well as being the primary voice and leading advocate for the We brand," the filing says.

"Rebekah has never been paid a salary from us," it says.

Paltrow Neumann, 41, is a graduate of Cornell University.

Paltrow Neumann, 41, is a graduate of Cornell University.
Flickr/stephen_d_luke

She's a native of Bedford, New York, according to New York magazine.

She majored in business and earned a minor in Buddhism, according to her profile on WeGrow's website.

Paltrow Neumann worked as a trader at the investment bank Salomon Smith Barney before coming to WeWork, Fast Company reported.

She has also dabbled in acting, appearing in several films.

Paltrow Neumann has long had spiritual pursuits — she reportedly once attended the Dalai Lama's birthday party.

Paltrow Neumann has long had spiritual pursuits — she reportedly once attended the Dalai Lama's birthday party.
The Dalai Lama.

Paltrow Neumann has a certification in Jivamukti yoga and has traveled around the world to practice yoga, her profile on WeGrow's website says.

She even once attended a birthday party for the Dalai Lama, according to Fast Company.

Paltrow Neumann is married to the WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann, but they don't try to separate work from their relationship.

Paltrow Neumann is married to the WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann, but they don't try to separate work from their relationship.
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

"We don't have a line at all between work and life," Paltrow Neumann told Fast Company. "It's not even a blurred line. There is no line."

The couple met in 2009, Business Insider previously reported.

"And he walked in, and I saw that he was my soul mate," she told Fast Company about their first meeting. "It's the truth."

Paltrow Neumann also tries to incorporate the couple's five children in their workplace.

Paltrow Neumann also tries to incorporate the couple's five children in their workplace.
Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images

Making her kids feel welcome at WeWork helps Paltrow Neumann balance her career and motherhood, she told Coveteur.

"Kids shouldn't feel like work is something they're not allowed to peek into," she said. "So, for me, the biggest challenge was being able to bring those two worlds together."

Paltrow Neumann also keeps a basket of toys for her kids in her office, according to Coveteur.

Paltrow Neumann has made some controversial comments about her relationship with her husband.

Paltrow Neumann has made some controversial comments about her relationship with her husband.
Fortune

"A big part of being a woman is to help men [like Adam] manifest their calling in life," Paltrow Neumann said at WeWork Summer Camp in 2018, according to Property Week.

WeWork faced backlash on Twitter for Paltrow Neumann's statements, but it declined to comment to CNBC, though it provided more of her remarks from the event for context.

"The reality that I see today is that there is nothing bigger that women can do, in my opinion, than empower their partners," Paltrow Neumann said, WeWork told CNBC, "and that can be a man, a woman, a friend, it doesn't matter, but empower others."

Paltrow Neumann helped her husband quit smoking and drinking soda, tossing his soda and cigarettes down the trash chute of her apartment, they told Fast Company.

After the pair was married, they shared a tiny studio apartment in the East Village.

After the pair was married, they shared a tiny studio apartment in the East Village.
The exterior of 166 Second Ave., where the Neumanns once lived.

Adam Neumann discussed his life in the building in an interview with Business Insider's Alyson Shontell and Rich Feloni in May.

A studio apartment in the East Village building was most recently listed for $3,098 a month, and the median monthly rent in the neighborhood was $3,150.

The Neumanns' family office, 166 2nd Financial Services, is named after the building's address, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The couple now owns several homes in New York.

The couple now owns several homes in New York.
New York City's Greenwich Village. Neumann's home isn't pictured.

The Neumanns own a six-bedroom townhouse in New York City's Greenwich Village that has a dedicated "stroller parking garage," according to New York magazine.

They also reportedly own a 60-acre estate in New York's Westchester County. It has a farm where Paltrow Neumann has brought students from WeGrow, according to Fast Company.

The couple's Hamptons home was purchased for $1.7 million, according to New York magazine.

The Neumanns spend most of their time in New York, but in 2018 they purchased a $21 million house in San Francisco that features a room shaped like a guitar.

They also own some of the commercial properties that house WeWork locations, bringing the estimated value of their entire real-estate portfolio to more than $80 million, per The Wall Street Journal.

Paltrow Neumann is responsible for WeWork's focus on wellness, according to Fast Company.

Paltrow Neumann is responsible for WeWork's focus on wellness, according to Fast Company.
Ben Hider/Getty Images

"Rebekah said, 'Stop. No more talking about money,' " Adam Neumann told Fast Company in 2016. "We're going to talk about wellness, happiness, fulfillment, and if the money is supposed to follow, it will. And if it doesn't, it doesn't matter, because we will be happy and fulfilled."

The We Company represents one of the most anticipated IPOs of the year, Business Insider reported. The company encompasses the co-living development WeLive, Paltrow Neumann's WeGrow, the gym Rise by We, and the original WeWork coworking business.

In January, the company was privately valued at $47 billion. As of September 13, however, reports indicate WeWork may be seeking a valuation between $10 and $12 billion in its IPO.

The business of wellness runs in Paltrow Neumann's family: She is related to the actress and wellness icon Gwyneth Paltrow.

The business of wellness runs in Paltrow Neumann's family: She is related to the actress and wellness icon Gwyneth Paltrow.
Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gwyneth Paltrow is Paltrow Neumann's cousin, Business Insider previously reported.

The two once even sat down for an interview for Paltrow's lifestyle blog, Goop, to discuss WeGrow.

Paltrow Neumann is now the CEO of WeGrow, a primary school run by WeWork.

Paltrow Neumann is now the CEO of WeGrow, a primary school run by WeWork.
WeWork

She got the idea to add a school to the WeWork network of businesses after being unable to find a school liked her own daughter, she told Goop.

"We had a clear vision of the type of school we wanted her to attend — a place that would not only nurture growth in her mind but also her spirit, a place that had a real culture of kindness, where she would have a real connection to nature, and where her individual gifts, talents, and passions would be recognized and supported," she said.

"Ultimately, we could not find such a place, so we decided to start WeGrow."

In The We Company's S-1 filing, the Neumanns pledged to give $1 billion to charitable causes.

In The We Company's S-1 filing, the Neumanns pledged to give $1 billion to charitable causes.
SEC

The S-1 says the first contribution of that sort would be for "the conservation of over 20 million acres of intact tropical forest," the same featured on the final page of the document, pictured here.

WeWork slashed Paltrow Neumann's influence over the company in response to concern from potential investors.

WeWork slashed Paltrow Neumann's influence over the company in response to concern from potential investors.
Adam Neumann, CEO of WeWork.

Paltrow Neumann will no longer be involved in succession planning in the event of Adam's death as originally planned, the We Company said in a September 13 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All members of Adam Neumann's family, including Paltrow Neumann, were also forbidden from serving on WeWork's board. The decisions were made in "in response to market feedback," according to the filing.

The company also reduced Adam Neumann's voting power from 20 times that of an average shareholder to 10 times that of an average shareholder, the filing shows.

WeWork declined to comment to Business Insider on Paltrow Neumann's role in WeWork's succession plan.


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