A lot of kids starting at Harvard Business School next fall will be hanging up posters of Adam Neumann in their dorm rooms. Neumann, the founder of WeWork, will walk away from this corporate bonfire with a billion dollars and a bunch of fancy houses. His great-grandchildren will be prominent philanthropists with their names on museums and universities, the strange origin of their fortunes long forgotten. Neumann did a certain sort of capitalism—one with some cachet at HBS!—as well as anyone has ever done it. It is one thing to build a successful company that creates a lot of value and take some of that value for yourself; Neumann created a company that destroyed value at a blistering pace and nonetheless extracted a billion dollars for himself. He lit $10 billion of SoftBank’s money on fire and then went back to them and demanded a 10% commission. What an absolute legend.
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