The Cult of We, by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell

1. The Cult of We
The Cult of We
The inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and what its epic unraveling says about a financial system drunk on the elixir of Silicon Valley innovation — from the Wall Street Journal correspondents (featured in the WeWork Hulu documentary) whose scoop-filled reporting hastened the company’s downfall.اضافة اعلان

WeWork would be worth $10 trillion, more than any other company in the world. It wasn’t just an office space provider. It was a tech company — an AI start-up, even. Its WeGrow schools and WeLive residences would revolutionize education and housing. One day, mused founder Adam Neumann, a Middle East peace accord would be signed in a WeWork. The company might help colonize Mars. And Neumann would become the world’s first trillionaire.

This was the vision of Neumann and his primary cheerleader, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son. In hindsight, their ambition for the company, whose primary business was subletting desks in slickly designed offices, seems like madness. Why did so many intelligent people — from venture capitalists to Wall Street elite — fall for the hype? And how did WeWork go so wrong?

In little more than a decade, Neumann transformed himself from a struggling baby clothes salesman into the charismatic, hard-partying CEO of a company worth $47 billion — on paper. With his long hair and feel-good mantras, the six-foot-five Israeli transplant looked the part of a messianic truth teller. Investors swooned, and billions poured in.

Neumann dined with the CEOs of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, entertaining a parade of power brokers desperate to get a slice of what he was selling: the country’s most valuable start-up, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a generation-defining moment.

Soon, however, WeWork was burning through cash faster than Neumann could bring it in. From his private jet, sometimes clouded with marijuana smoke, he scoured the globe for more capital. Then, as WeWork readied a Hail Mary IPO, it all fell apart. Nearly $40 billion of value vaporized in one of corporate America’s most spectacular meltdowns.

Peppered with eye-popping, never-before-reported details, The Cult of We is the gripping story of careless and often absurd people — and the financial system they have made.

Eliot Brown covers start-ups and venture capital for The Wall Street Journal. He previously worked at The New York Observer and is a graduate of Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota.

Maureen Farrell joined The New York Times in 2021 after eight years at The Wall Street Journal. A graduate of Duke University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she is based in New York.

Reviews and praise

“Absorbing. ... The Cult of We is both a ticktock of Neumann’s self-immolation and a primer on the ways and mores of a start-up culture populated by visionaries, grifters, and moneymen. ... Like Bad Blood, ... The Cult of We is novelistic in detail and often thrilling. ... It’s like watching a car careening toward a wall at 90 miles an hour,” wrote Allison Stewart of The Washington Post.

“Only a handful of books capture the zeitgeist of a business era. Add this one, a wild saga that caps a decade when founder-worshipping investors threw billions at well-spun visions — even those of a megalomaniac whose new-age real estate enterprise’s losses piled up as fast as its valuation climbed. The duo who broke the story of WeWork’s rise and fall have now artfully fleshed it out in a book whose colorful narrative is undergirded by deep context about the times, and enablers, that made Adam Neumann possible,” John Helyar, New York Times bestselling co-author of Barbarians at the Gate, wrote.

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