Money makers: Building a hipster city

Adam Neumann, the self-styled gig economy's landlord-in-chief, is out to change the world – one neighbourghood at a time.


Adam Neumann: the gig economy's landlord-in-chief

Adam Neumannenthuses about turningaround down-at-heelneighbourhoodsand designing newenvironmentallyfriendly cities, saysJames Ashton in TheSunday Times. It's"quite an ambitionfor a man whoselivelihood depends onrenting desk space tostart-ups".

The firmhe founded, WeWork,launched in 2010and is reputed to beworth some $18bntoday five timesthat of establishedrival Regus. But thegig economy's selfstyledlandlord-in-chief, now 37, insists WeWork is aboutmuch more than "renting desk space to flat-white-chuggingmillennials". "What we are really building is an operatingsystem for commercial and residential buildings globally," hesays. He also claims WeWork is at work designing three entirecities "from beginning to end" with government partners.

"We want it to be green, we want it to be connected, wewant to build things like stadiums and amphitheatres wherepeople come together." Japanese robotics firm SoftBankis convinced by its vision, reportedly pumping in $3bn,alongside other backers. But it's not the money that interestsNeumann. "I have seen companies go public and a lot ofpeople become rich very quickly, but I have not necessarilyseen it increasing the level of happiness," he says. "We aregoing to find a way of doing it differently."

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The woman responsible for "Bumble babies"

Whitney Wolfe is the high priestess of dating, says Alice Fishburn in the FT. In 2012, Wolfe co-founded Tinder, "the app that revolutionised millennial relationships", before leaving two years later and suing the firm for sexual harassment. In the process, she inadvertently became "a symbol of the sexism women face in Silicon Valley". Then, in 2014, she launched Bumble from Austin, Texas a matchmaking app with 13 million users, the distinction of which is that it's women who make the first move. To date, her app has led to 5,000 engagements and marriages. "Bumble babies have started to arrive now," says Wolfe.

Working with a young workforce has its own challenges, however. "I'm so close in age to them, but I feel decades apart when it comes to digital trends," she says."Half a year in tech-app time, it's like a normal-world five years." And it pays to know where you're going, says Wolfe. "So many entrepreneurs approach me and say, I want to start the next big thing', and I say, Well, what are you solving?' And oftentimes they say, Oh, I'm not sure. I want to start something big.'" Sigh. "You can never start something big without solving something small, right? And for me, that was not being allowed to text guys first."

How to bag your own cow

Two tech start-up veterans in Seattle, Joe Heitzeberg and Ethan Lowry, had a mutual friend who would buy an entire cow from a farmer and then brag about how great the beef was, Heitzeberg tells Susan Adams in Forbes. "We'd ask if we could have some and he'd say, No, you have to find your own farm and drive a truck out there and you need a big freezer'." So Lowry suggested they should crowdfund the purchase of a cow, "and everyone could get their five pounds [of beef]".

In 2015, the idea became the model for Crowd Cow, an online venture that sells one animal at a time, only processing orders once all the various cuts have been spoken for. The website displays photos of cows grazing in open fields, with text telling the farms' stories. The stories are important, Heitzeberg explains, because "a major trend is that people want to know where the things they buy come from. People want to know their dollars are supporting a producer who cares, whose business is sustainable."

Revenues grew from $6,000 in the first month to $60,000 after six. In the following 12 months, it was well over $1m, and Crowd Cow has just raised a further $2m in seed capital. But Heitzeberg isn't getting carried away. "Nail it and then scale it," he says.

The pill that crushes food cravings

Rob Goldstein is best known for being Joel Greenblatt's right-hand man at Gotham Capital, the hedge fund that delivered annualised returns of more than 50% before returning money to investors in the mid-1990s. The pair later invested their money with Michael Burry, the money manager made famous in the film The Big Short for netting a fortune by betting against mortgage bonds. Less well known is that Goldstein also runs a start-up business on the side selling lozenges for $16.99 a pack that, in the words of one gym owner, make sweets taste like "poop" and so help you conquer your craving for them.

It all began one night in 2012, explains Noah Buhayar in Bloomberg Businessweek, when returning from a gym Goldstein found himself confronted with a chocolate bar his son had left out on the table. One quick bite turned into eight. "I don't know what came over me," says Goldstein. He wondered if there wasn't something to be done about such cravings. Taking an investor's approach, he read scientific papers, called experts, and recruited a team to look into the problem, spending well over $10m.

"When you invest, you have to look at the facts and ignore what everybody else says or does," says Goldstein. While doing his research, an academic at the University of Pennsylvania mentioned Gymnema sylvestre a herb long used in ayurvedic medicine, which temporarily suppresses the ability to taste sweetness. Goldstein hired a retired chemist, who suggested mixing the herb with a zinc compound to prolong the effects and reduce the herb's bitterness.

The formula, named Crave Crush, was patented last year, and Eric Stice, a sceptical psychologist at the Oregon Research Institute, was persuaded to test Crave Crush's effects on the brain. The results proved Goldstein's product worked."I was just trying to create something I wanted," says Goldstein. "I figured if I wanted it, other people would, too." Besides, he adds, if the business fails, "I can afford it".

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

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