WeWork is searching for a new chief executive to turn around the troubled co-working company, people familiar with the matter said. The candidates include T-Mobile U.S. Inc. head John Legere, who has spoken with WeWork about the role, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
Legere has deep ties to WeWork majority shareholder SoftBank Group Corp., which took ownership of the company after WeWork’s initial public offering broke down. Legere is currently pushing for a contentious merger of his wireless carrier with Sprint Corp., whose majority owner is SoftBank. Sprint’s executive chairman, Marcelo Claure, was recently appointed to the same position at WeWork.
But people familiar with the CEO search stressed that WeWork intends to consider many candidates. Although Legere breathed new life into T-Mobile, he has an unpredictable and antagonistic public persona, reflected on his Twitter profile and in conference appearances. He’s also another man in a company so saturated with male management that Claure has promised to increase diversity.
Representatives for SoftBank, T-Mobile and WeWork parent company We Co. declined to comment. The discussions with Legere were reported earlier Monday by the Wall Street Journal. Shares of T-Mobile fell about 2% in intraday trading, while Sprint is down 3%.
Adam Neumann, the former WeWork CEO, stepped down in September under pressure from investors over apparent conflicts of interest and mismanagement of the IPO process. Two WeWork executives, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, took over as co-CEOs. The pair secured multimillion-dollar severance packages with the board last month.
Despite getting rescue financing from SoftBank a couple weeks ago, WeWork needs to quickly rehabilitate the business and fill empty space in its offices. The company is expected to soon dismiss thousands of employees.
Legere and Claure, a SoftBank executive tasked with cleaning up WeWork, have occasionally sparred in the past. Claure, the former CEO of Sprint, was a T-Mobile antagonist before becoming a potential merger partner. In 2016, he called Legere “a con artist” on Twitter. At one point, Legere told Claure to “go back to the kiddie pool.” But more recently, the two executives have appeared friendlier as they argue in favor of the Sprint-T-Mobile tie-up. In May, they were spotted jogging together in Washington.
Meanwhile, Neumann is exploring a potential next act with help from the money he got in his exit from WeWork. He considered investing in Barneys New York Inc. during the luxury department store’s recent bankruptcy, people with knowledge of the matter said Monday.
With assistance from Gillian Tanz and Scott Moritz.