WEWORK: OR THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF A $47 BILLION UNICORN (2021)
As a documentary, the film serves as a cautionary tale to any potential investors in the technology and digital age to do their due diligence prior to writing the check. On a human level, the stories told throughout WeWork: Or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn show the burning desire for community and belonging, not only back when WeWork was founded in 2010 and even more so today in light of COVID-19.
WeWork founder Adam Neumann seemed to have everything trending up when it came to WeWork, a company said to invest in large spaces, transform them into communal work spaces, and lease them to companies large and small in order to promote collaboration and creativity. In time, Neumann’s ambitions and interests outpaced reality, leading to an epic 6-week free fall from a valuation of over $45 million to bankruptcy. It’s a story of someone believing they are more talented than they are and never being told no, rather Neumann was enabled and supported in his desire to completely change the world, first with… workspaces… then with living quarters, education, and more. In the same vein as Fyre Festival’s Billy McFarland, Neumann used his smooth talking and arguably sociopathic behavior, coupled with his charm, to make nothing seem like billions of dollars worth of something.
This is an absolutely fascinating tale told methodically and poignantly through first-hand interviews and public appearances by Neumann himself. Though a bit slow at times, it all comes together in the end to reveal a deception that resulted in Neumann’s ouster with a $1.7 billion lifeline. The WeWork documentary also prompts the realization that many people may have potential market-shaking ideas, but execution is an entirely different ballgame. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. In this case, Neumann prettied up what amounted to a real estate company and instead of focusing on the collective ‘we” that he constantly promoted (and received trademark payments for), he never lost site of the “me,” at the detriment of those who believed in him.
This must-watch documentary is available on Hulu this Friday.
Photo from Collider