The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion

Crown. Jul. 2021. 464p. ISBN 9780593237113. $28. BUS
Wall Street Journal reporters Brown and Farrell, who covered the spectacle as it happened, now collaborate on this detailed account of the ultra-precipitous rise and inevitable fall of WeWork, a company with astonishing ambitions and a charismatic founder who, for a while, had the financial world convinced that his business was worth billions. Brash, unbridled, self-aggrandizing, and self-enriching, Adam Neumann built a trendy office rental business into a burgeoning company with vague goals and purpose, random business practices, chaotic management, and delusional corporate governance; it bled money and never approached profitability. In pursuit of constant growth, Neumann, encouraged by investor Masayoshi Son and unchecked by anyone, made increasingly reckless decisions with an obstinate disregard of red flags. WeWork’s disastrous, failed IPO and Neumann’s ouster now seem assured from the start, but Brown and Farrell effectively explain how investors, advisors, and employees were in Neumann’s thrall at the time. This book carefully tells how, when doubts arose, no one stood up to Neumann until it was too late.
VERDICT This juicy cautionary tale, which complements the 2021 documentary WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn, will appeal to fans of high drama in business and commerce.
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