Adam Neumann is not just WeWork's co-founder and CEO--he's also one of his company's landlords.
Neumann has been snapping up properties in New York and California and then leasing them to the company, earning millions of dollars in the process, The Wall Street Journal reports. Real estate deals are reviewed and approved by an audit committee or WeWork's board before being disclosed to investors, according to the company.
As WeWork's largest shareholder, Neumann controls more than 65 percent of the overall share vote, WSJ reports. A WeWork spokesperson told Inc. that WeWork's 10-person board gets only one vote per person and that these deals are not subjected to shareholder approval.
Multiple investors are concerned the dealings represent a potential conflict of interest, WSJ reports. A WeWork spokesperson told Inc. the company is unaware of any investor concerns related to these arrangements.
"In a public company, that would be considered highly controversial," Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, told WSJ. "Usually, human beings tend to think of themselves over the company itself when they're on the other side of the transaction."
The New York City-based co-working giant has at least 552 offices in 97 cities, according to its website. Neumann owns or has an ownership stake in only three of these buildings, according to a company spokesperson. WeWork paid more than $12 million in rent to properties "partially owned by [its] officers" between 2016 and 2017, and it is expecting to pay more than $110 million over the life of the leases, according to WSJ.