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WeWork founder looking to take on housing availability

WeWork founder Adam Neumann is looking to take on the issue of housing availability in the United States with a new startup.

According to Vox, Neumann is launching Flow, a residential real estate startup that wants to address a wide variety of issues, including housing availability, a lack of social interactions in a remote world, and the inability of renters to gain equity.

Flow plans to operate more than 3000 apartments that Neumann recently acquired. The company will also likely add community features and provide the opportunity for renters to gain equity.

At this stage, the way Flow will operate is still not clear, but it is reportedly targeted at higher income earners.

A Nashville property Neumann recently purchased features a saltwater pool, valet trash pickup, and a dog park. 

On top of that, all the premium services and community-building aspects Neumann’s properties will reportedly offer could mean the properties will be even more expensive.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Flow will also likely involve the blockchain. The filings for an entity related to Flow mention real estate development, co-living space management, and cryptocurrency trading services.

Real estate expert and professor of finance at NYU’s business school, Arpit Gupta said Flow might try to take a number of existing elements and combine them into one. 

This could include timeshares, co-ops, layaway financing and luxury buildings in trendy areas or even short-term apartments with company-provided financing where you could grow your ownership stake the longer you live there.

“It’s like WeLive 2.0 combined with some sort of rent-to-equity system,” Gupta told Vox. 

“Oh, and they will probably launch a token — for finance and fun — that would allow more people an ownership stake in the business and create a lot of buzz.”

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, known for its early investments in Twitter and Airbnb, has sunk approximately US$350 million into Flow, according to The New York Times.

Co-founder and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, Marc Andreessen said Neumann is returning to the theme of connecting people by transforming their physical spaces and building communities where people spend the most time: their homes.

“Adam is a visionary leader who revolutionised the second largest asset class in the world — commercial real estate — by bringing community and brand to an industry in which neither existed before,” Mr Andreessen said. 

“Adam, and the story of WeWork, have been exhaustively chronicled, analysed, and fictionalised — sometimes accurately. 

“For all the energy put into covering the story, it’s often under appreciated that only one person has fundamentally redesigned the office experience and led a paradigm-changing global company in the process: Adam Neumann.”

Adam Neumann stepped down as CEO of WeWork following a failed attempt to take the company public nearly three years ago.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.