WeWork's co-founder, Adam Neumann, stepped down as chief executive of the embattled shared office space business, the company said on Tuesday, a stunning fall for the entrepreneur who oversaw the meteoric rise of one of the most valuable start-ups to emerge in the last decade.

Under pressure to leave from board members and investors in recent days, Mr. Neumann will become nonexecutive chairman of WeWork's parent, the We Company. WeWork named two current executives, Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson, as co-chief executives


Investors have expressed concern that Mr. Neumann, a charismatic but unpredictable leader, exercised too much control over the company through special voting shares. He will now lose much of his power over the company. Each of his shares will now have three votes, down from 20 votes earlier this year, according to two people briefed on the change who were not authorized to disclose it. Mr. Neumann will not be able to control more than a minority of the board's directors and he won't have control over any of the board's committees, according to one of those people.


The decision was made on a lengthy board call on Tuesday and after deliberations between Mr. Neumann and his closest confidants in recent days. On Sunday, he met with the chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, and later in the day had dinner with Bruce Dunlevie, a partner at Benchmark Capital and a director of the We Company.

It is not clear if Mr. Neumann's departure as chief executive will be enough to bolster interest in We's shares. Investors have also expressed concerns about the company's business model. We has been spending billions of dollars to expand and is unlikely to turn a profit in the foreseeable future.

The company is now considering slowing down that growth sharply. It could lay off as many as 4,000 or 5,000 employees, according to one person briefed on the matter. We employed more than 12,500 employees as of June 30, according to its regulatory filings.

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