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Credit…Peter Prato for The New York Times

Adam Neumann is back.

The WeWork founder, whose spectacular rise and fall has been chronicled in books, documentaries and a scripted TV series, has a new business — and surprising support.

Mr. Neumann is launching a new company called Flow, focused on the residential real estate market, reports the DealBook newsletter. He notably has financial backing from Andreessen Horowitz, the prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm that was an early investor in everything from Facebook to Airbnb.

Andreessen Horowitz is considered a king among early-career investors, so his endorsement is a powerful sign of support, and perhaps a rebuke to Mr. Neumann’s critics, who have described his leadership of WeWork as a cautionary tale of corporate pride.

The company’s investment in Flow is around $350 million, according to three people briefed on the deal, valuing the company at more than $1 billion before it even opens for business. The investment is the largest individual check Andreessen Horowitz has ever written in a round of funding to a company.

Flow is set to launch in 2023, and the venture capital giant’s co-founder Marc Andreessen will join its board, these people said. Mr. Neumann plans to make a significant personal investment in the business in the form of cash and real estate assets.

“It is often underestimated that one person fundamentally re-engineered the desktop experience and led a paradigm-shifting global company in the process: Adam Neumann,” Andreessen wrote in a note posted to the website. of his company on Monday, explaining his rationale for the investment. in the society.

At its peak, WeWork was valued at some $47 billion. After a botched public offering and stories of mismanagement, it imploded spectacularly. Mr. Neumann was ousted from WeWork in 2019, but walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars. Today, WeWork has a market value of around $4 billion.

Mr. Andreessen wrote that “we like to see recurring founders building on past successes by building on lessons learned.” For Mr. Neumann, he added, “there are many successes and lessons.”

Mr. Neumann, who has purchased more than 3,000 apartments in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta and Nashville, aims to reimagine the rental housing market by creating a branded product with consistent service and community features. Flow will operate the properties that Mr. Neumann has purchased and will also provide its services to new developments and other third parties. The exact details of the business plan could not be learned. (Flow has no connection with crypto firm Flowcarbon, which was also co-founded by Mr. Neumann and raised $70 million in May in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz.)

It appears Mr. Neumann’s business will follow a very different model than WeWork, which involved renting office space long-term and then re-letting it to customers at higher rates for shorter terms. This created its own risks if WeWork was unable to find tenants.

In the case of Flow, the company is actually a service that owners can partner with for their properties, much the same way a hotel owner might contract with a chain of branded hotels. to operate the property.

Flow’s investment thesis appears to reflect economic and social trends that are driving more people to rent homes rather than buy them at a time when there is a housing shortage. One-third of Americans rent their homes and more than half of Americans living in urban areas rent.

Mr. Neumann made a brief foray into the residential real estate market during his time at WeWork. The company created a division called WeLive that offered short-term rentals and experiences. The company was derided as a social experiment gone wild and quickly shut down, one of the few divisions – like WeGrow and Rise by We – that took WeWork away from its main focus. Mr. Neumann said the company had grown too quickly in too many areas.

The investment in Flow, while large by venture capital standards, is still well below the $9 billion SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son invested in WeWork under Mr. Neumann’s mandate to develop the company as quickly as possible. When WeWork nearly collapsed, Mr. Son invested an additional $9 billion in the company to shore up its finances, leading to Mr. Neumann’s ousting.

Mr Andreessen said in his memo that he was particularly interested in Flow because he believed rental property was ripe for disruption, especially now that more and more people are working from home and “will be experiencing a lot minus, if necessary, work in the office”. the social ties and friendships enjoyed by local workers.

He also hinted that the company might be trying to address one of the biggest challenges facing tenants: “You can pay rent for decades and still own zero capital – nothing.” He added: “In a world where limited access to home ownership continues to be a driver of inequality and anxiety, giving tenants a sense of safety, community and authentic ownership has transformative power for our society.”

It’s unclear whether Flow will offer a rent-to-own program or another mechanism for tenants to create equity. Mr. Andreessen and other tech tycoons recently objected to a plan for multi-family homes near their estates in the town of Atherton, California.

Mr. Neumann declined to comment. In an interview at DealBook Summit last year, he said of his rise and fall at WeWork that “I had a lot of time to reflect, and there were multiple lessons and multiple regrets.” .

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