A Superstar CEO Takes One Greedy Step Too Far

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Gigs! Disruption! Cubicle killers! Adam Neumann figured he could parlay trendy buzzwords into an office rental goliath that could make him rich. WeWork, the company he co-founded nine years ago, took out long-term office building leases and subleased space to start-ups and freelancers, a business model that soon flopped. In 2018, WeWork collected $1.8 billion in revenue and still ended the year $1.6 billion in the red. But Neumann himself has done quite well, in part by buying up buildings and renting the space back to WeWork. Neumann also tried trademarking — in his own name — the “We” in WeWork. Amid the resulting furor, he later returned the $5.9 million he charged WeWork for rights to the “We.” That furor only intensified this summer when Neumann sold off $700 million of his WeWork shares before a planned IPO, a clear case of trying to get out while the getting seemed good. That maneuver chopped two-thirds off WeWork’s $47 billion market value and had WeWork investors demanding Neumann’s head. They got it. Neumann last week stepped down as WeWork CEO. The good news for Neumann? He still has plenty of pillows to rest his head on. He owns five homes worth a combined $80 million.

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Reposted from Inequality.org

Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality. He is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Last year, he played an active role on the team that generated The Nation magazine special issue on extreme inequality. That issue recently won the 2009 Hillman Prize for magazine journalism. Pizzigati’s latest book, Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives (Apex Press, 2004), won an “outstanding title” of the year ranking from the American Library Association’s Choice book review journal.

Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

America’s Wealthy: Ever Eager to Pay Their Taxes!

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Why do many of the wealthiest people in America oppose a “wealth tax,” an annual levy on grand fortune? Could their distaste reflect a simple reluctance to pay their fair tax share? Oh no, JPMorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon recently told the Business Roundtable: “I know a lot of wealthy people who would be happy to pay more in taxes; they just think it’ll be wasted and be given to interest groups and stuff like that.” Could Dimon have in mind the interest group he knows best, Wall Street? In the 2008 financial crisis, federal bailouts kept the banking industry from imploding. JPMorgan alone, notes the ProPublica Bailout Tracker, collected $25 billion worth of federal largesse, an act of generosity that’s helped Dimon lock down a $1.5-billion personal fortune. Under the Elizabeth Warren wealth tax plan, Dimon would pay an annual 3 percent tax on that much net worth. Fortunes between $1 billion and $2.5 billion would face a 5 percent annual tax under the Bernie Sanders plan.

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No Such Thing as Good Greed

No Such Thing as Good Greed