WeWork founder reinvents himself with $70M crypto carbon credit platform

Three years after being ousted as CEO of WeWork, Adam Neumann has jumped on the crypto bandwagon, raising $70 million in the first major funding round for his climate tech venture Flowcarbon.

The project aims to make carbon trading more accessible by putting carbon credits on the blockchain.

Neumann is an Israeli-American businessman and investor famous for his role in founding coworking space provider WeWork in 2010, a company once heralded as the future of work spaces.

However, it all came crashing down in 2019 when the company attempted to go public, which instead lifted the lid on WeWork’s unprofitable business model and questionable leadership antics. The company went from being privately-valued at $47 billion in August 2019 to talk of filing for bankruptcy just six weeks after, with Neumann pressured to step down as CEO.

Adam and his wife, Rebekah Neumann have been listed as co-founders of Flowcarbon, along with CEO Dana Gibber, and COO Caroline Klatt — both of whom are co-founders of Headliner Labs, a company building AI-powered chatbots for major media brands. Ilan Stern, another co-founder of Flowcarbon, heads up Neumann’s own family office.

According to Flowcarbon, the recent funding round includes $32 million in funding from Silicon Valley investors Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz through their a16z crypto venture capital firm. Other investors include General Catalyst and Samsung Next.

Another $38 million was raised in a token-sale of Flowcarbon’s first carbon-backed token, the Goddess Nature Token (GNT).

The company describes itself as a pioneering climate technology company working to build market infrastructure in the voluntary carbon market (VCM). Through the tokenization of carbon credits on the Celo blockchain, Flowcarbon wants to make the purchase, selling and trading of carbon credits more accessible and efficient than the current carbon markets.

Carbon trading is a market-based system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. 

Businesses that produce carbon-emissions can buy carbon credits to offset them from projects that remove or reduce greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as reforestation projects.

Related: WEF 2022: Trust and clarity are missing in discussions of carbon emissions and crypto

However, Flowcarbon argues that the voluntary carbon market is currently “inefficient, opaque, and inaccessible,” with brokers and consultants charging up to 20 percent in fees, many deals done behind closed doors and inconsistent pricing for carbon credit depending on the buyer. 

Flowcarbon’s solution to the voluntary carbon market is not unique. Other projects aimed at facilitating the buying and selling of tokenized carbon credits include Toucan Protocol, JustCarbon and Likvidi. 

Arianna Simpson, General Partner at a16z said it was an obvious area that could benefit from blockchain tech.

“The carbon market is extremely opaque and we believe demand for offsets is rapidly outpacing the speed at which supply can be increased, especially for nature-based projects. Tokenization is an obvious solution.”