Ousted WeWork founder Adam Neumann hosted a booze-soaked party for more than 100 of his earliest employees as shares of the company finally began trading on the New York Stock Exchange and soared as much as 10 percent.
“I’m feeling amazing” Neumann told The Post as he gathered a crowd of hangers-on at the beer garden of the posh Standard Hotel in New York’s Meatpacking District.
Guests at the event pounded champagne as early as 9 a.m. — though Neumann stuck to water and iced coffee — as they awaited the opening bell and first trade of WeWork stock. Mimosas and Bloody Marys were later served.
Both Neumann, dressed in a black T-shirt that read, “STUDENT FOR LIFE,” and cofounder Miguel McKelvey addressed the crowd.
“It’s such a special day,” Neumann told guests, adding that he stopped by Wall Street, where “there was a really big sign,” he added, perhaps referencing the huge WeWork flag flying Thursday on the face of the New York Stock Exchange.
“A brand without a past does not have a future,” he said, hugging McKelvey multiple times throughout the speech.
The crowd huddled for a photo, blocking traffic on Washington Street, as they clapped and cheered, with some occasionally crying out, “WeWork!”
One attendee at the event told The Post that some felt like it was a “high school reunion” while others felt it was more like “going to your ex-girlfriend’s wedding.”
A source said Neumann and McKelvey had reached out to ex-staffers via email and LinkedIn to invite them to the party.
“The irony is not lost on the fact that they are inviting former employees who got no money from the company they nearly destroyed, and in some cases, some who were laid off after the last IPO attempt. And it is day drinking just like the olden days at WeWork,” one WeWork insider told The Post.
Another source said the guest list “was a select group of people who helped build the company. The plan was to get everybody together to watch all their hard work come to fruition.”
WeWork finally made its debut on the public markets Thursday under the ticker “WE” through a merger with BowX Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company, about two years after it first tried to go public at a much higher valuation.
Shares were last seen trading about 6 percent higher at $11 per share.
In 2019, WeWork pursued a traditional initial public offering after it had been valued by private investors at $47 billion.
In August 2019, when the company filed its prospectus, which for the first time disclosed WeWork’s financials showing mounting losses, its valuation quickly collapsed, scuttling its plans to go public.
The company — and Neumann as well as his financial backers — were widely ridiculed for packing its prospectus with lofty buzzwords that were tangentially related to its business and allowing Neumann to enrich himself through legally questionable business operations.
By September, Neumann — under pressure from key investor Softbank — resigned as CEO and got a massive exit package worth almost $2 billion.
But now, in a world fundamentally altered by the pandemic, WeWork — under new management — has found a new lease on life and scored a roughly $9 billion valuation that the public markets appear to believe is justified.
Under Sandeep Mathrani, a real estate veteran who was named CEO in early 2020, the company has delivered on promises to cut costs and focus on its core real estate portfolio.