Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) general partner Chris Dixon shed some light on the firm’s recent investments in controversial WeWork founder Adam Neumann onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2022.
Neumann raised $350 million from the venture firm back in August in a deal that reportedly valued his new real estate venture, Flow, at $1 billion before it had even launched.
That investment, which marked the largest check a16z had ever written for a single company and its second bet on a Neumann startup in 2022, drew criticism from VCs and founders. Many noted Neumann’s less-than-ideal track record at WeWork, which under his tenure tanked in value from ~$47 billion to ~$8 billion and gained a reputation for mismanagement and poor treatment of employees.
Marc Andreessen, the venture firm’s founder who led the Flow deal, saw Neumann’s track record differently, Dixon told interviewer Lucas Matney.
“He’s one of the few founders — I mean, he’s one of the only people in the world who has built a real estate brand name,” Dixon said.
The funding news in August also came on the heels of the release of WeCrashed, an Apple TV+ show that depicted Neumann’s rise, fall and exit from WeWork with actor Jared Leto playing the founder. The show, which portrayed Neumann as a narcissistic, chaotic leader, was inspired by actual events but did not purport to be a documentary.
“I know there’s a lot of stuff written about [Neumann] and things we did, but we do our own research. We just don’t rely on books and movies for our diligence. We do our own research, and we just came to a different conclusion on a lot of what happened,” Dixon said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of investment. We regret the error.