- Nate Adams
Review: 'WeWork' shines light on the crazy rise and fall of notorious tech company
Courtesy of Hulu
Jed Rothsteins’s expose and deep financial dive into The We Company in “WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn” charts the rise and fall of the notorious tech company and its eccentric, off-the-cuff, founder Adam Neumann. Originally labeled as the next digital conglomerate akin to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, WeWork - a company who specialized in creating communal office spaces at bargain rates in highly dense metropolis areas like New York City - was one of the fastest growing tech companies of the 2010s. But as “WeWork” will tell you, it wasn’t a tech start-up, but a real estate company in way over its head with a leader who didn’t understand the basic fundamentals of profitballity. This ultimately resulted in the company’s original valuation of $47 billion getting diluted to pennies in a matter of six weeks.
“WeWork” bounces all over the place in terms of talking heads and interviews, but it's an easily approachable documentary that’ll gobble streams on Hulu from audiences craving to learn something new. But in order to understand how The We Company came to be, we must first understand its fearless leader. Neumann came to New York with the aspirations of creating his office space vision where anyone could be their own boss.
Rothstein assembles a motley crew of tech and Wall Street insiders to offer context into the lavish lifestyle of Neumann and his creation. Though we only see his side of the story through archival footage, the filmmakers use of Neumann’s strange interviews is icing on the cake. At one point, he enlisted actor Ashton Kutcher to help sell his company to investors (and do PR damage control) showcasing the influence he brought to the table. And to this credit, Neumann was a piranha at controlling the narrative, but when it came time to shine light on The We Company’s financials - in an effort to become a publicly traded company - that was a story he couldn’t manipulate.
Neumann was flubbing the numbers and not reporting a daily $100 million cash burn rate and insiders were gobsmacked at other findings in the IPO. And because the company - bankrolled by SoftBank and a shady Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund - was valued as a tech giant as opposed to a real estate company, nobody saw the red flags twirling in the wind. Like Fyre Fest founder Billy McFarland, Adam Neumann was just another finance bro with big aspirations who didn’t know how to steer his ship during an economic downturn. He was too big to fail and when he finally did, not only did he receive a huge compensation package, he left countless employees stranded. At least folks who attended Fyre Fest got a chicken sandwich.
WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn debuts on Hulu Friday, April 2nd.