Business / Corporate

WeWork talking with T-Mobile's John Legere in search for new CEO

Bloomberg

WeWork is considering a candidate with deep ties to its majority shareholder SoftBank Group Corp. as its new chief executive officer, people familiar with the matter have said, in hopes of turning around the troubled coworking company.

T-Mobile US Inc. head John Legere has spoken with WeWork about the role, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

SoftBank Group Corp. took ownership of WeWork after its initial public offering broke down, and is also the majority owner of Sprint Corp. — with which Legere is currently pushing for a contentious merger of his wireless carrier.

Marcelo Claure, a SoftBank executive tasked with cleaning up WeWork, is Sprint’s executive chairman, and was recently appointed to the same position at WeWork.

But people familiar with the firm’s CEO search stressed that WeWork intends to consider many candidates.

Although Legere breathed new life into T-Mobile, he is also considered by some to have an unpredictable and antagonistic public persona, reflected on his Twitter profile and in conference appearances. He would also be 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 The We Co. have declined to comment. The discussions with Legere were reported earlier Monday by The Wall Street Journal.

Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann 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, but secured multimillion-dollar severance packages with the board last month.

Despite receiving 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 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’ve argued 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.