Why did one of history’s greatest tech investors just give $350 million to a real estate startup headed by disgraced WeWork founder Adam Neumann?

The famous WeWork implosion might seem like a PR nightmare from which an executive would be impossible to recover, and spawned both a television series and a documentary film chronicling the office leasing firm's failure.
On Monday, that assumption was proven wrong when billionaire Marc Andreessen announced plans for a major investment in Flow, a new real estate venture owned by WeWork founder Adam Neumann.
This investment is reported to total $350 million, according to The New York Times, and represents the largest single investment ever made by Andreessen's venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. The billionaire's investment history includes early stakes in tech giants like Facebook parent Meta, Twitter and Skype -- meaning his support of Flow carries serious weight.
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The most recent investment put Flow's valuation at over $1 billion.
WeWork collapsed in 2019, falling from over $40 billion to just $4 billion today after a complicated IPO. While it stuttered, the company, which wanted to revolutionize workplace culture through sublet coworking spaces, ousted Neumann as CEO.
Andreessen announced plans to invest in Neumann's latest venture in a blog post on his firm's website on Monday, citing the need to invest in innovation in the US real estate sector. "The demographic trends driving the American housing market are unmistakable: Our country is creating households faster than we are building houses," the article begins.
Although precise details about Flow's business and mission are scarce, Andreessen suggests that it aims to disrupt perceived harmful developments in the way Americans currently work and live. The company is scheduled to start next year.
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Neither home ownership nor renting are currently able to meet the needs of most people, Andreessen wrote in his post, a predicament made even more complicated by COVID. "As a result, [people] will experience far fewer, if any, social bonds and friendships in the office that local workers enjoy," he wrote of the rise of work from home. Presumably Flow is intended to fix this dynamic.
Andreessen also addressed Neumann's previous failure with WeWork in his post. "We understand how difficult it is to build something like this, and we love it when repeat founders build on past successes by growing from the lessons learned," he wrote. "For Adam, the achievements and lessons are plentiful and we look forward to joining him and his colleagues on this journey and building the future of life."
By focusing on structural issues in America's housing market, Monday's investment announcement echoes a post Andreessen wrote in 2020 entitled "It's Time to Build," in which he advocated an increase in housing projects in the United States.
"We can't build nearly enough housing in our booming cities -- which is leading to insanely skyrocketing housing prices in areas like San Francisco, making it almost impossible for ordinary people to move in and take the jobs of the future," he pointed out. The solution, he wrote, is to build more homes: a mindset colloquially known as YIMBY, or "yes in my backyard."
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Earlier this month, The Atlantic revealed that Andreessen doesn't really stick to that philosophy. The publication revealed public documents showing him and his wife opposing the creation of apartment buildings near where they live in Atherton, California. The city has been named the richest ZIP code in the United States for five consecutive years.
This story was originally published on Fortune.com

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