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Review: 'WeWork: Or The Making And Breaking Of A $47 Billion Unicorn' is More Entertaining Than Exposing

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Mar 31, 2021
Still from 'WeWork: Or The Making And Breaking Of A $47 Billion Unicorn'
Still from 'WeWork: Or The Making And Breaking Of A $47 Billion Unicorn'  (Source:Hulu)

There has been so much press coverage about the spectacular rise and fall of the We Work business that you know any film hoping to make sense of its 11 year existence will be a horror story of some sort, especially for the several thousand employees who lost their jobs because of the mismanagement of We Work's megalomanic owner. 

At first blush, one might have hoped that "'WeWork: Or The Making And Breaking Of A $47 Billion Unicorn" would bring some clarity to the story of how the company soared and then crashed. At the peak of the company's short existence, CEO/owner Adam Neumann had been spending $100 million a week to attract a multibillion-dollar investment that would never ever come.

On paper, Neumann's concept of creating very contemporary shared workspaces made great sense. The internet explosion had drastically changed the way we worked, and the new culture of startups with a more independent workforce, demanded we re-think where we worked, too. 

Israeli Neumann who had worked his way around the globe before he settled in the U.S., relied on the youthful confidence he exuded and his undeniable ability as a fast-talking salesman to talk his initial backers/investors/partners into the whole concept of We Work. Having grown up on a kibbutz, Neumann was a great believer in the concept of community living, which he thought he could easily introduce into the business world.

With the help of his very spiritual wife, Rebekah, who was officially not an employee of We Work, Neumann created a cult-like atmosphere where attendance at the company campout/wild parties was obligatory. Always conscious of both the image of We Work and himself, Neumann unhesitatingly made many bad decisions, like overpaying for new properties because they were situated in the most fashionable locations.

Director Jed Rothstein's film is more entertaining than exposing, as he not only gives Neumann an easy ride, he leaves enormous gaps in the story. Even now we really still have no exact idea of how the company could go from a $47 billion valuation to near bankruptcy in just six weeks.

Then, if we are not angry enough with the story, we learn that even with We Work on the verge of bankruptcy, Neumann actually got a payout in excess of $100 million to step down as CEO. The sadder part is that we know this is not exceptional, as right now UK businessman Philip Green was given a similar amount for his dubious business practices that brought a very successful massive retail empire to its knees.

Neumann's story exposes the reality of how the sheer greed of bad and crooked businessmen can still run amok, ruining everyone's lives except their own. It would be wonderful (although highly unlikely) that we actually remembered these lessons in the future.

"WeWork: Or The Making And Breaking Of A $47 Billion Unicorn" streams on Hulu startign April 2.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

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