Tag Archives: Homes

Will Adam Neumann Change Housing Forever?

He’s baaaack! Adam Neumann, the controversial WeWork founder, has a new startup called Flow.

This time, Neumann plans to transform the home rather than the workplace. Details are scant, but Flow appears to be a sort of WeWork for apartments.

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Today, venture firm Andreessen Horowitz announced a $350 million investment in the startup. The deal values Flow at over $1 billion before it has even launched and is Andreessen’s largest check ever.

Neumann has bought over 3,000 apartments in Miami, Nashville and other Sun Belt cities. His plan may be to turn them into homes for digital nomads.

Imagine buying a Flow membership, just like WeWork. In return, you get access to a hip apartment in any city you want, for as long as you want.

No more taking chances on random Airbnb hosts and managing bookings. Who wouldn’t prefer a seamless, consistent experience?

Shoot, I might even move in myself!

Neumann’s strategy of buying up reasonably priced housing in the Sun Belt has succeeded before. Fundrise, through which I invest in real estate, has similar strategy and has made substantial returns.

Americans are flocking to the Sun Belt, providing a strong tailwind of demand. Cities like Miami are cheaper and warmer than places like New York.

So Neumann’s strategy seems sound — but is he the best person to execute it?

Neumann has a history of erratic and unscrupulous behavior. He trademarked the word “We” and sold it back to his own company for millions of dollars.

He also routinely bought buildings and leased them to WeWork, a huge conflict of interest. He even invested $13 million of company money into a wave pool startup.

Neumann was too aggressive and unfocused at WeWork — which is fine. All founders learn with time.

But I can’t excuse him for putting himself before his company, his employees and his investors. Unlike business strategy, ethics aren’t something you can learn.

You either have them or you don’t.

I wouldn’t invest in Flow given Neumann’s past. What’s more, a startup valued at over $1 billion before it launches is a major red flag.

Historically, most such companies implode.

However, Neumann has charisma and vision. He just might be the best salesman of his generation.

Andreessen Horowitz may just prove me wrong and make a killing here. One way or another, I can guarantee it won’t be boring.

What do you think of Neumann’s new startup? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech:

Behind the Scenes of WeCrashed

The True Story Behind WeCrashed

What Can The Dropout Teach Investors?

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Photo: WeWork and Flow founder Adam Neumann


Apartments Are Banned from 76% of San Francisco

I came across in incredible stat today. Apartments are banned in 76% of San Francisco. It’s no wonder that it’s the most expensive city in the United States.

In fact, given increasingly restrictive zoning, 54% of the homes in San Francisco could not be built today! The picture in New York City is similar, where 40% of Manhattan homes couldn’t be built under current zoning codes.

I find the anti-development discourse often focuses on “greedy developers” when a more appropriate person to focus on might be “working class mom who doesn’t want to live 90 minutes from work.” How we frame the problem may be the key to winning the argument. The “neighborhood character” trope is another NIMBY standby, but against a struggling single mom who spends four hours a day commuting on a bus to her job as a nanny and just wants an affordable place near her job, i think their argument loses its punch.

Housing in expensive cities like SF and NYC could get more affordable in a different, more painful way. Everyone I know of who lives in San Francisco is decrying staggering amounts of crime and school closures that have gone on over a year. The tech industry has moved to Zoom and found real efficiencies there. I live in the NYC area and can attest that crime has increased substantially.

Perhaps the way San Francisco and similar cities get cheaper isn’t by building, but by self-destruction.

For more on zoning and politics, check out these posts:

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Photo: “Typical San Francisco house” by 4nitsirk is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0