The WeWork founder quietly scooped up $1 billion worth of apartment buildings near the peak of the multifamily housing market. His first building is now in lease-up. Here’s what we know.
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WeWork founder and former CEO Adam Neumann gave the world its first glimpse into what his new apartment startup company looks like.
Flow Apartments and its 150 employees agreed to give a reporter for Business Insider a tour of its first branded apartment building, a 639-unit apartment building in Fort Lauderdale.
The building sits on a park on the New River in a bustling part of the growing Sun Belt city. Like many Class A apartment buildings, Las Olas is stuffed full of amenities including a restaurant, gym, pool with multiple hot tubs, yoga lounge and, of course, coworking space.
Flow obtained a $350 million check from Bay Area tech investor Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z), its largest investment ever. The check came with a note from a16z co-founder Marc Andreessen, who said in an open letter that he was betting on Neumann in part because renters don’t gain equity.
“You can pay rent for decades and still own zero equity — nothing,” Andreessen wrote.
While he has kept details close to the vest, Neumann fueled speculation that he was working on what would be a rare equity-sharing model for tenants who rent from one of six Flow properties across the Sun Belt.
“If we’re able to take this value-creating mechanism and share with the residents a portion of the value, it’s going to make them feel ownership,” he said earlier this year. “And it’s not just ownership I feel like I’m part of something. It’s I actually own part of something.”
But even with the launch of its first building, it’s still unclear what Flow has planned next, and how it will differ from an ordinary Class A apartment management company.
The details are apparently not ready for primetime. Flow’s website for Las Olas remains unfinished, with placeholder text and stock images. Most of the links don’t work. The company’s main website says only that it’s coming soon. Still, employees are working behind the scenes to get the company up and running.
That includes a staff of 10 working on Flow’s app, Insider reported. The app appears to be the heart of the company’s goal for its buildings, allowing residents to pay rent, unlock doors and communicate with each other.
The goal is also for Flow staff to get to know residents, representatives told Insider, including details such as which tenants like dogs.
“If four months into your time here I sent you some dog treats to give to Roscoe, that feels like something, right?” Flow employee Adam Amar told the outlet. “It’s something that I’m doing because I understand how valuable that is to you.”
Residents can share some of their talents with each other and there are opportunities within the building to network and cowork, with amenities that Insider likened to WeWork spaces.
It’s still not clear how or whether Neumann and team will provide Flow renters with any kind of equity, Insider reported.