‘WeCrashed’ follows the remarkable story of WeWork, a shared workspace startup that swiftly became one of the world’s most valuable companies, only for it all to come crashing down just before its much-awaited IPO. The story focuses on the company and its flamboyant co-founder, Adam Neumann. However, the quiet, seemingly lesser noticed powerhouse behind the swiftly growing startup is its other co-founder, Miguel McKelvey.
One of the Apple TV+ show’s more intriguing aspects is how different the two co-founders’ approach is. However, both are equally crucial to the company’s meteoric growth. If ‘WeCrashed’ got you curious about knowing more about Miguel McKelvey, we’re here to give you the lowdown on the real man behind the character.
Who is Miguel McKelvey?
On the show, Miguel McKelvey is the mild-mannered architect who offers Adam Neumann space in the building he works in, initiating the first step in what eventually results in the two starting a shared workspace enterprise called GreenDesk, which subsequently leads to the formation of WeWork. The show throws in quite a few details about the character that tell us about the real Miguel McKelvey.
McKelvey (born in 1974) grew up as one of six children in a “five-mother collective” in Eugene, Oregon, where he attended South Eugene High. After spending two years in Colorado College, he shifted to studying architecture at the University of Oregon. Around 1998, McKelvey moved to Tokyo, seemingly on a shoestring budget, and soon began to connect with the local community. Interestingly, his experience in Tokyo prompted him to start his first company, English, baby! It was an English instruction and social networking site that connected students.
McKelvey subsequently moved to New York City to delve back into architecture and began working with startup Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture, which was responsible for all American Apparel projects (a fact briefly alluded to on the show as well). He eventually became the manager of the international retail rollout and later claimed that it was his experience of working at a startup that led him to build WeWork, which is largely aimed at young entrepreneurs.
McKelvey and Neumann met at a party while working in the same office building and in 2008 established GreenDesk after convincing the landlord to let them sublease small sections of floors on an unused building. Once again, the show’s depiction of McKelvey’s character working feverishly through the night seems to have a hint of truth as the real architect reportedly designed the company’s name, logo, and website in a single night.
WeWork was subsequently founded in 2010, with its first space located in Manhattan. While McKelvey worked on the architecture and design of the shared workspaces, Neumann pitched the young company and managed to raise billions of dollars for its swift expansion. In 2017, McKelvey was named the company’s Chief Culture Officer — a title he seemingly held till he left the company in 2020 (with Neumann leaving the previous year). He was also lauded as one of the Most Creative People by Fast Company in 2019. A Forbes estimate from November of the same year charted his net worth at $900 million (having fallen from its peak of $2.9 billion after the SoftBank bailout).
Where is Miguel McKelvey Now?
McKelvey was married to Hiyam Khalifa, a former investment banker, before the two separated in 2017. The Co-Founder and Chief Culture Officer finally left WeWork in July 2020 after eleven years and in November 2021, he became involved with Known, a financial platform aimed at empowering communities of color.
Though not much is known about his current romantic and family life, it appears that McKelvey lives in New York City and is currently occupied with Known Holdings. The company, which was formed by a coalition of industry leaders, describes itself as “a coalition of leading financial professionals, seasoned investors and deeply experienced operators” aimed at shifting ownership and redistributing wealth through their “Black-, Indigenous-, Asian American- and Latinx-led growth platform.”