Ousted WeWork CEO Makes $30 Million Investment in the ‘Future of Living’

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Remember WeWork? Back when people still went to offices, the SoftBank-backed startup was considered a hot commodity that’d struck gold with its business model built on shared workspaces. At least until a failed 2019 IPO sent the company’s fortunes into a free-fall and forced the resignation of controversial cofounder Adam Neumann. Now, just over a year after his ousting, Neumann is getting back into the real estate business. The only difference is that this time, he’s doing it by investing in the residential sector.

Bloomberg reports that Neumann’s family investment office, 166 2nd LLC, will be leading a $42 million funding round in Alfred (also known as Hello Alfred), a platform focused on providing both concierge-type services and residential management tools to apartment buildings. Neumann’s personal stake in the investment round is estimated at $30 million, with other investors including Spark Capital, New Enterprise Associates, and apartment developer Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC. Alfred touts itself as building the ”future of living.”

Though Neumann has flown under the radar since his tenure at WeWork came to an end, the investment in Alfred fits with some of the ideas he explored while running what was once considered one of Silicon Valley’s premier unicorns. In 2016, WeWork introduced the idea of a co-living spinoff called WeLive, opening outposts in New York and the Washington, D.C., area. The idea never truly took off, and the company scrapped its plans to expand WeLive to Seattle in 2019.

Neumann’s investment in Alfred, however, isn’t so much about physical residential property as it is a method for improving its functioning. Founded in 2014, the startup connects residents with time-saving services like dog-walking and laundry while helping buildings manage processes like rent payments and maintenance requests. To date, 100,000 apartment units use Alfred’s services.

Despite the differences between Alfred and Neumann’s former company, there’s a sense of kinship between the two founders. Alfred cofounder and CEO Marcela Sapone told TechCrunch in 2019 that “as WeWork transformed commercial real estate, Hello Alfred is transforming residential real estate, and redefining what it means to live in a city today.”

Alfred hasn’t publicly unveiled any plans for the latest round of funding, which brings its total funding to $100 million. In the early days of the pandemic, the company announced it would allow anyone in the 20 cities where it operates to use its services for food and other essential goods, regardless of whether or not they lived in an Alfred building. In a statement to CNN Business, a spokesperson for Neumann said that “Adam is excited to support Marcela, Jess, and the rest of the Hello Alfred team as the company continues to grow.”