Updated: When Adam Neumann revealed his new venture to WeWork-ify the residential real estate sector Monday, backed by a $350 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz, the announcement was long on hype, and short on details.
Forbes has learned that the company, Flow, intends to launch a digital wallet that can store crypto – among other currencies, including U.S. dollars – in addition to the real estate management software it announced previously.
Davidson Goldin, a spokesperson for Flow, said the planned digital wallet cannot be used to make rental payments for Flow-managed apartments using cryptocurrency it may store, but can be used for outside purchases like any other wallet.
Goldin confirmed Flow’s plans for a wallet after Forbes learned about recruitment efforts for the company this month, where a recruiter was promoting a role at a “ground breaking venture that will be one of the largest implementations of blockchain in the economy, involving a multi faceted approach that will be spearheaded by Adam Neumann (ex-CEO from WeWork).”
In a LinkedIn message sent to one potential product manager candidate, a recruiter for the role said that “Adam is building a next generation multi-family property management system with a proprietary payment system,” adding that the system “will include a full financial services wallet, a tokenized reward program and crypto payment methods.”
Flow spokesperson Goldin told Forbes the job description was largely false and should not have been distributed. He also provided an interview with Robert Gade, an employee of Coda Recruitment who’d been recruiting on Flow’s behalf. “I took some information that I gathered, working with bits and pieces, and the job description I put out was not accurate to what we were looking for,” Gade told Forbes. “I made a mistake and misrepresented the job.”
Instead, Goldin provided Forbes with another product manager job description that made no mention of “crypto” or “blockchain”, but said the new hire would be required to “analyze the technology ecosystem and services in the multifamily industry.”
Goldin said that Flow would not be receiving crypto payments for rental of its apartments, nor would the company be “one of the largest implementations of blockchain in the economy.” However, he added that a tokenized rewards program from Flow could involve cryptocurrency.
Regarding Flow’s work with Coda, Goldin said “We do not discuss the status of vendor relationships with the media.”
News of a digital wallet offering brings into clearer focus Neumann’s ambitions in the residential real estate space with his new venture. Since Neumann was ousted as CEO of WeWork, after he had raised $20 billion and failed to take the company public, the enigmatic business leader has been amassing a vast multifamily real estate portfolio, buying properties in secondary markets like Nashville, Tennessee, and Norwalk, Connecticut, while investing in adjacent businesses such as property management software company Alfred.
Mentions of crypto-related work appear on the job board for FOL Management, a real estate company that appears tied to Flow (Chris Hill, WeWork’s former chief product officer and Neumann’s brother-in-law, is president and COO). FOL is currently hiring for web3 engineers with “previous experience with one or several open L1 and L2 blockchains” who will help “redefine the economic experience of renters” by “leveraging new technology.” (After this story was published, the job board disappeared from the website).
Neumann has previously tested the waters of cryptocurrency, cofounding a startup called Flowcarbon, which recently raised $70 million in a funding round also led by Andreessen Horowitz. The startup intends to tokenize carbon credits, but recently delayed a token sale citing poor cryptocurrency market conditions.
In a blog post Monday, Marc Andreessen wrote that his venture capital firm is backing Flow because he views Neumann’s company as a “direct strike” at the current housing crisis, one driven by our country “creating households faster than we’re building houses.”
While not stating exactly what the business purpose of Flow is, he dropped multiple hints about the issues it is trying to fix: “You can pay rent for decades and still own zero equity — nothing,” he wrote. Andreessen Horowitz declined to comment.
By David Jeans, Forbes Staff