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

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The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and what the company's epic unraveling exposes about Silicon Valley's delusions and the financial system's desperate hunger to cash in--from the Wall Street Journal reporters whose scoops hastened the company's downfall. In 2001, Adam Neumann arrived in New York after five years as a conscript in the Israeli navy The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and what the company's epic unraveling exposes about Silicon Valley's delusions and the financial system's desperate hunger to cash in--from the Wall Street Journal reporters whose scoops hastened the company's downfall. In 2001, Adam Neumann arrived in New York after five years as a conscript in the Israeli navy. Just over fifteen years later, he had transformed himself into the charismatic CEO of a company worth $47 billion--at least on paper. With his long hair and feel-good mantras, the 6-foot-five Neumann, who grew up in part on a kibbutz, looked the part of a messianic Silicon Valley entrepreneur. The vision he offered was mesmerizing: a radical reimagining of work space for a new generation, with its fluid jobs and lax office culture. He called it WeWork. Though the company was merely subleasing amenity-filled office space to freelancers and small startups, Neumann marketed it like a revolutionary product--and investors swooned. As billions of funding dollars poured in, Neumann's ambitions grew limitless. WeWork wasn't just an office space provider, he boasted. It would build schools, create WeWork cities, even colonize Mars. Could he, Neumann wondered from the ice bath he'd installed in his office, become the first trillionaire or a world leader? In pursuit of its founder's grandiose vision, the company spent money faster than it could bring it in. From his private jet, sometimes clouded with marijuana smoke, the CEO scoured the globe for more capital. In late 2019, just weeks before WeWork's highly publicized IPO, a Hail Mary effort to raise cash, everything fell apart. Neumann was ousted from his company--but still was poised to walk away a billionaire. Calling to mind the recent demise of Theranos and the hubris of the dotcom era bust, WeWork's extraordinary rise and staggering implosion were fueled by disparate characters in a financial system blind to its risks, from a Japanese billionaire with designs on becoming the Warren Buffet of tech, to leaders at JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs who seemed intoxicated by a Silicon Valley culture where sensible business models lost out to youthful CEOs who promised disruption. Why did some of the biggest names in banking and venture capital buy the hype? And what does the future hold for Silicon Valley unicorns? Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell explore these questions in this definitive account of WeWork's unraveling.


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The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and what the company's epic unraveling exposes about Silicon Valley's delusions and the financial system's desperate hunger to cash in--from the Wall Street Journal reporters whose scoops hastened the company's downfall. In 2001, Adam Neumann arrived in New York after five years as a conscript in the Israeli navy The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and what the company's epic unraveling exposes about Silicon Valley's delusions and the financial system's desperate hunger to cash in--from the Wall Street Journal reporters whose scoops hastened the company's downfall. In 2001, Adam Neumann arrived in New York after five years as a conscript in the Israeli navy. Just over fifteen years later, he had transformed himself into the charismatic CEO of a company worth $47 billion--at least on paper. With his long hair and feel-good mantras, the 6-foot-five Neumann, who grew up in part on a kibbutz, looked the part of a messianic Silicon Valley entrepreneur. The vision he offered was mesmerizing: a radical reimagining of work space for a new generation, with its fluid jobs and lax office culture. He called it WeWork. Though the company was merely subleasing amenity-filled office space to freelancers and small startups, Neumann marketed it like a revolutionary product--and investors swooned. As billions of funding dollars poured in, Neumann's ambitions grew limitless. WeWork wasn't just an office space provider, he boasted. It would build schools, create WeWork cities, even colonize Mars. Could he, Neumann wondered from the ice bath he'd installed in his office, become the first trillionaire or a world leader? In pursuit of its founder's grandiose vision, the company spent money faster than it could bring it in. From his private jet, sometimes clouded with marijuana smoke, the CEO scoured the globe for more capital. In late 2019, just weeks before WeWork's highly publicized IPO, a Hail Mary effort to raise cash, everything fell apart. Neumann was ousted from his company--but still was poised to walk away a billionaire. Calling to mind the recent demise of Theranos and the hubris of the dotcom era bust, WeWork's extraordinary rise and staggering implosion were fueled by disparate characters in a financial system blind to its risks, from a Japanese billionaire with designs on becoming the Warren Buffet of tech, to leaders at JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs who seemed intoxicated by a Silicon Valley culture where sensible business models lost out to youthful CEOs who promised disruption. Why did some of the biggest names in banking and venture capital buy the hype? And what does the future hold for Silicon Valley unicorns? Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell explore these questions in this definitive account of WeWork's unraveling.

30 review for The Cult of We: Wework, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I had been following the death spiral of WeWork with some interest in the fall of 2019, but I had never been able to understand the story (not having a business or finance background). So I welcomed this book, and I was not disappointed. The authors managed to de-mystify some of the business dealings of WeWork and also offered some insight into the "it's who you know" world of venture capitalism, the difference between private and public markets, the disproportionate influence of some big pocket I had been following the death spiral of WeWork with some interest in the fall of 2019, but I had never been able to understand the story (not having a business or finance background). So I welcomed this book, and I was not disappointed. The authors managed to de-mystify some of the business dealings of WeWork and also offered some insight into the "it's who you know" world of venture capitalism, the difference between private and public markets, the disproportionate influence of some big pocket investors in Japan and Saoudi Arabia, and other topics that are totally peripheral to my life, but fascinating (and sometimes horrifying) nevertheless. And yes, I will admit that I did enjoy the scandalous anecdotes of Adam and Rebekah's lifestyle and self-serving New Age gobbledygook. And I was certainly flabbergasted to read how Adam essentially got paid a boatload of money to walk away from the company whose financial future he had blighted. Still, this is ultimately a cautionary tale and an illustration of just how dangerous too much reliance on charismatic founders or CEOs (Jeff Skilling of Enron, Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, Adam Neumann) can be. I would also say : cheers for the SEC, which did not cave in to Neumann's pressure to accept a particular (and biased) metric of profitability in their S1 document. Fascinating read!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive. The Cult of We is a discussion of the story of the American company WeWork with a decidedly financial focus, considering the authors are two writers for the Wall Street Journal. It's a well-researched and well-written book that delves into, more so than other takes I've seen/read on this story, the reasons why the so-called tech company attracted investment from such high places. However, the book leaned away fro Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive. The Cult of We is a discussion of the story of the American company WeWork with a decidedly financial focus, considering the authors are two writers for the Wall Street Journal. It's a well-researched and well-written book that delves into, more so than other takes I've seen/read on this story, the reasons why the so-called tech company attracted investment from such high places. However, the book leaned away from the human element (likely because the authors knew Reeves Wiedeman's Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork was going to be released before their book was), and it's a less entertaining final product because of that fact.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Beth Robinson-Kinney

    In addition to being a thorough recounting of the Wework ascent and fall from grace, this book does an excellent job laying out the basics of public and private financing, corporate governance, and other financial topics for lay readers. The authors provide context and meticulous detail to allow readers to understand the gravity of Wework's failures. As much as this book absolutely rips on the Neumanns, the most searing indictment is reserved for the financial system and its key players, who kno In addition to being a thorough recounting of the Wework ascent and fall from grace, this book does an excellent job laying out the basics of public and private financing, corporate governance, and other financial topics for lay readers. The authors provide context and meticulous detail to allow readers to understand the gravity of Wework's failures. As much as this book absolutely rips on the Neumanns, the most searing indictment is reserved for the financial system and its key players, who knowingly abetted greed and megalomania, by blindly funding the hazy false promises of silicon valley startups like Wework.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lee Woodruff

    In the gold rush of start-ups and delusional dreamers, Adam Neumann might take the cake. These two Wall Street Journal reporters covered the story for years and go in-depth on the epic unraveling of a company that, at its essence, was a real estate company cloaked in tech terms with micro-kitchens and kegs that promised to revolutionize everything from work and housing to education. Neumann even dreamed that he could help colonize Mars. Why did so many intelligent people, including SoftBank, ven In the gold rush of start-ups and delusional dreamers, Adam Neumann might take the cake. These two Wall Street Journal reporters covered the story for years and go in-depth on the epic unraveling of a company that, at its essence, was a real estate company cloaked in tech terms with micro-kitchens and kegs that promised to revolutionize everything from work and housing to education. Neumann even dreamed that he could help colonize Mars. Why did so many intelligent people, including SoftBank, venture capitalists and Wall Street elite, fall for the hype? This book colorfully dissects how one long-haired, six-foot-five Israeli transplant bamboozled the world with his messianic truth-telling.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Moin Nadeem

    Honestly, I don't know where to begin. Still processing what a scam this was. Honestly, I don't know where to begin. Still processing what a scam this was.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pereira

    1,000 writers could write for 100 years and not come up with a crazier sotry.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    Well this was quite the trainwreck. What I most liked about this book was everything around WeWork and Adam Neumann: The solid narrative of raising money for a startup, the leadup to IPO (and getting the S1 right [or wrong, in this case]), and so forth. The story is really quite repetitive: Each chapter is either devoted to raising more money in order to increase revenue; or a story about Neumann's excesses; or the discovery that despite the last round of money, they don't have enough money to pr Well this was quite the trainwreck. What I most liked about this book was everything around WeWork and Adam Neumann: The solid narrative of raising money for a startup, the leadup to IPO (and getting the S1 right [or wrong, in this case]), and so forth. The story is really quite repetitive: Each chapter is either devoted to raising more money in order to increase revenue; or a story about Neumann's excesses; or the discovery that despite the last round of money, they don't have enough money to proceed. It's that simple. However, the horribleness of the sequence is a narcotic. Can it really be this bad? Can it get worse? Oh yes it can. A possibly toxic drinking game would be to down a shot every time the authors say that Neumann propagates some new thing that doesn't show a "good look." I also read Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup and I have to say that Neumann is worse that Elizabeth Holmes, because there was simply nothing there with Neumann except for his charisma. Because of his dyslexia, he never seemed to know the numbers or the putative tech of the company. On the one hand you think "how could these investors be this stupid?" And then you realize: Oh, because they're dumb. And really, really greedy. You also wonder why so many people stuck with Neumann (particularly Jen Berrent). Could people not have been telling these insiders "get out while you still can?" I found this whole story so nutty I may need to read the other book on WeWork, Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Liz Polding

    I found this hard to put down, and as an analysis of everything that is wrong with the investment markets, it is accessible, clear and very well written. The research is through and the explanation of what happened and why is excellent. It’s gripping stuff and the petulant self-importance of some of the key players is not unfamiliar. I kept thinking of Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, and it’s hard to escape the idea that this kind of recklessness, the ‘bubble’ phenomenon is an almost inevitable I found this hard to put down, and as an analysis of everything that is wrong with the investment markets, it is accessible, clear and very well written. The research is through and the explanation of what happened and why is excellent. It’s gripping stuff and the petulant self-importance of some of the key players is not unfamiliar. I kept thinking of Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, and it’s hard to escape the idea that this kind of recklessness, the ‘bubble’ phenomenon is an almost inevitable consequence of the timeless combination of greed, FOMO and BS, as the book itself shows. I teach business law, including the requirements for flotations and quoted companies. WeWork is a cautionary tale that makes it very, very clear why the rules are so strict and why corporate governance, dry though it sometimes is, really does matter. There are some parts of this which make me very angry, such as accounts of Rebekah Neumann’s resistance to paying teachers at her WeGrow school a decent salary because they should be honoured to be involved in a visionary project. Because it’s not like they have bills, or rent or families. The treatment of staff, particularly women is pretty distasteful, too. Maternity leave is a ‘vacation’ apparently, and let’s not even start on the allegations regarding the gender pay gap. If you want to change the world, maybe start small by treating your team properly. Although this is a story which is probably not yet over, this is a great account of where we are now, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    I followed the collapse of WeWork as it was happening, but this book still wowed me with its detail. Adam Neumann sold the world on the fanciful notion that his office subleasing business could be a $10 trillion company that would solve global conflict and problems like ... orphans (??) And somehow people said: okay, yes, that seems reasonable, while pushing WeWork's valuation all the way up to $47 billion before reality set in. Along the way WeWork burned through billions in investor money, mos I followed the collapse of WeWork as it was happening, but this book still wowed me with its detail. Adam Neumann sold the world on the fanciful notion that his office subleasing business could be a $10 trillion company that would solve global conflict and problems like ... orphans (??) And somehow people said: okay, yes, that seems reasonable, while pushing WeWork's valuation all the way up to $47 billion before reality set in. Along the way WeWork burned through billions in investor money, mostly from SoftBank, which it used to chase nonsensical business lines -- including wave pools and a private school helmed by Neumann's wife Rebekah -- and to throw parties and personally enrich its founder. Obviously all the material on Neumann lighting money on fire is compelling. He gets high on a private jet. He invites employees to an annual corporate retreat-slash-music festival, which gets increasingly lavish every year and features the acts like Lorde, The Roots and Lin Manuel Miranda. He uses venture capital money to take stakes in two non-dairy coffee creamer companies, for some reason. He drinks tequila. So much tequila. He sends around tequila shots immediately following a round of layoffs at the company. He raises a toast at a work dinner "to nepotism." Brown and Farrell do a particularly nice job explaining the characters who enabled Neumann, like Masayoshi Son and Jamie Dimon. They tease out the motivations of VCs, mutual fund managers, investment bankers and stock exchange operators chasing IPOs, and show why so many of them played into WeWork's fantasy. It's the emperor's new clothes in real life. Staggering.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Orla

    Ever been baffled by tales of investors throwing billions at overconfident start-ups? Raised an eyebrow about how a company leasing office space could be considered a tech company? Wondered just how the very rich burn through money? This impeccably researched book will answer all of those questions, and more. Find out how "an inexperienced baby-clothes salesman"(an unforgettable descriptor) somehow became the CEO of a company valued at $47 billion before a failed IPO sent the value of his company th Ever been baffled by tales of investors throwing billions at overconfident start-ups? Raised an eyebrow about how a company leasing office space could be considered a tech company? Wondered just how the very rich burn through money? This impeccably researched book will answer all of those questions, and more. Find out how "an inexperienced baby-clothes salesman"(an unforgettable descriptor) somehow became the CEO of a company valued at $47 billion before a failed IPO sent the value of his company through the floor. Read about how investors were captivated by his charisma, so much so that they never questioned what they were being told. And even when there were questions (Why is there no profit? Why are you spending $2 for every $1 you make? How come you sold a trademark to your own company for over $5 million?), they still had too much fear of missing out to insist on answers. This is one where the "unicorn hunters" should have walked away, but oh the hubris of SoftBank and JPMorgan and other chasers of the next Amazon/Google. There are multiple examples of unfettered greed and chicanery in this book, the two stand-outs for me were a passage about discarded WeWork couches and the detailing of Neumann's summer in the Hamptons before everything came crashing down. As someone who gets the sweats when I need to dip into my (tiny) overdraft, the numbers bandied about in here were staggering. This is less enraging than reading about Theranos (no messing with peoples' health), but it's genuinely astounding to see (almost) the entire story of WeWork laid out so clearly. To make things even better, this is a genuinely engaging read - even though if it were fiction you probably wouldn't believe it. Thanks to Harper Collins for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Really well written, with a bunch of financials and accounts turned into plain english. The story is crazy and there are so many points where I was just wondering is it the *next* page where this is all going to tumble down... but no, it goes and it goes and it goes. Well written, well researched and a surprisingly easy read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    At first I was skeptical of whether I needed to listen to another audiobook about Adam Neumann, but it shortly became quite clear that this was if not the definitive story of WeWork, at least the better of the two that I had listened to. This well captures the absolute hubris, egocentricity, soullessness, and tyrant like behavior of its founder and his equally loathsome partner, making the characters out of Succession seem tame in comparison. It’s difficult to feel any level of sympathy for anyo At first I was skeptical of whether I needed to listen to another audiobook about Adam Neumann, but it shortly became quite clear that this was if not the definitive story of WeWork, at least the better of the two that I had listened to. This well captures the absolute hubris, egocentricity, soullessness, and tyrant like behavior of its founder and his equally loathsome partner, making the characters out of Succession seem tame in comparison. It’s difficult to feel any level of sympathy for anyone involved in this entire debacle and certainly Masayoshi Son deserves a huge heap of blame for enabling this sociopath. At the same time, it documents what’s so wrong with the unicorn valuations and how the majority of them are pumped up nothingness and shows that we’re about 2 to 3 years away from the next crop of similar tales about SPAC and crypto-garbage related tales of excess gone wrong.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Listened to this...it's enjoyable for sure just considering the sheer scope of the we work delusion bubble, and how lucrative it was. There isn't really a satisfying ending though, since Neumann and family seem to sail off into a bright future on a golden parachute. The writer tries to frame the ending as though the failure of wework heralded a new more grounded climate for start ups, but I can imagine Neumann making a triumphant return with an exciting new project. As far as start up debacles g Listened to this...it's enjoyable for sure just considering the sheer scope of the we work delusion bubble, and how lucrative it was. There isn't really a satisfying ending though, since Neumann and family seem to sail off into a bright future on a golden parachute. The writer tries to frame the ending as though the failure of wework heralded a new more grounded climate for start ups, but I can imagine Neumann making a triumphant return with an exciting new project. As far as start up debacles go, I preferred Bad Blood by John Carreyou--I think because there were more accounts by ex staffers which rounded out the story for me. In the Cult of We I felt a little buried in accounts of financial maneuvers that aren't really legible to me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Dayen

    Again one I'm going to do a future review on, so no spoilers now. Again one I'm going to do a future review on, so no spoilers now.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sudhanshu

    Truly a page-turner. I couldn't stop reading. For three days, this book kind of took over my life - directly spilling over into the time I was supposed to be asleep. I read even while cooking! This is a new 2021 release, covering the rise and fall of WeWork - the office leasing company. The problem stems from that description, Adam Neumann, the founder, was unwilling to accept that. He HAD to believe it was a shiny Silicon Valley-style startup. He had to believe this was a "community-based platfo Truly a page-turner. I couldn't stop reading. For three days, this book kind of took over my life - directly spilling over into the time I was supposed to be asleep. I read even while cooking! This is a new 2021 release, covering the rise and fall of WeWork - the office leasing company. The problem stems from that description, Adam Neumann, the founder, was unwilling to accept that. He HAD to believe it was a shiny Silicon Valley-style startup. He had to believe this was a "community-based platform" with AI and "data yielding" capabilities. Similar to the now rare Israeli kibbutz, a communal living arrangement, where he spent his childhood years. His charisma and tenacity allowed him to attract immense venture capital deals, making WeWork, at its peak, second to only Uber in terms of valuation. His wife, a close cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow, connected him with Hollywood as well. I was so impressed with his attention to detail. When giving tours of WeWork to investors, he'd instruct employees to make waffles to have a "homely" feel to the place and would be very adamant about the selected playlists. At its core, the story is about startup exuberance. The bold proclamations of helping mankind while spending (investor's) money on unnecessary vacations and parties. The amount of times I read the phrase "plastic shot glasses and tequila" is insane. Neumann combined partying and business so much, blurring the lines - not giving a shit that his business, still losing billions even when almost a decade old. One crazy stat: $3,000 in losses per minute . That converts to $180,000 per hour or $4,320,000 per day 😬😬😬😬 Annually, that's $1,555,200,000 in losses. He once said their valuation was “much more based on our energy and spirituality than it is on a multiple of revenue.” His investors, many at the peak of the business world, drank the Kool-Aid (Tropical Punch is my fav flavor, btw). I almost respect it. The private jets, the eight mansions - that shit must be fun. I get it. I respect it more than when billionaires like Warren Buffet insist on living in the same old house & eating from the McDonald's dollar menu. What was tragic is that Neumann fooled himself into thinking that the music will never stop. He constructed an ego, which eventually erupted when the IPO went bust. The charlatan emperor was caught without clothes by the public markets. Even the bullshit “community adjusted EBITDA” metrics are not enough. Now he is a pariah, but a very rich one. Highly recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Wang

    I was less upset about the horrid financials of the company then I was the audacity with which Adam Neumann grifted for his own personal wealth at WeWork's expense. Excellent e-book, 200+ pages of ragescrolling, 10/10. I was less upset about the horrid financials of the company then I was the audacity with which Adam Neumann grifted for his own personal wealth at WeWork's expense. Excellent e-book, 200+ pages of ragescrolling, 10/10.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle Duchaine

    Phenomenal dive into the rise and fall of We Company (not to be confused with We Charity, although there are a few parallels.) Does a great job breaking down VC funding systems and structures in a way that is interesting without being overwhelming.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Martin Drew

    Anyone who trusts their investments to someone else should read this book as it tells the story of how one charismatic and ruthlessly ambitious man persuaded banks and investment companies to back his absurdly overblown vision for what was basically an office subletting business. That is organisations like yours and my pension providers being conned into believing that renting an office and sub-dividing it into desk spaces you rent by the day or week was somehow a new sort of technology platform Anyone who trusts their investments to someone else should read this book as it tells the story of how one charismatic and ruthlessly ambitious man persuaded banks and investment companies to back his absurdly overblown vision for what was basically an office subletting business. That is organisations like yours and my pension providers being conned into believing that renting an office and sub-dividing it into desk spaces you rent by the day or week was somehow a new sort of technology platform and should be given the same sort of valuation as a Google or Facebook. In many ways it was a cult, Adam Neumann thought that he could expand the office deal into education, living spaces – even ending World hunger and as a salesman he was obviously brilliant – but people who have the sort of Messiah delusions he had are not the sort of people to run a business, and the people who get taken in by them are not the sort of people you should trust to invest your hard earned money. By the end I was not sure who I feared the most, the bankers who had been conned into investing in this pile of ordure or the man who had conned them and whose greed was so overpowering that even when all his advisors told him he had to back down, that his greed was destroying his business, still refused to accept it and in the end when thousands of staff were being let-go demanded and got a billion dollars to leave. The book is very readable and a real insight into how start-up businesses raise their money and, sadly, how easy it is to hoodwink the moneymen.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Ray

    A lot to learn from this one. Must read for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Soliman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It gives great insight into the startup funding ecosystem and explain in great detail why the founder of WeWork was able to raise so much money on extremely high valuations while his company is loosing an excessive amount of money. The book doesn’t focus purely on WeWork and tells the stories of many different people such as the founder of Softbank. The book also explains the fierce competetion by banks to win over IPOs of tech companies and how toxic the I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It gives great insight into the startup funding ecosystem and explain in great detail why the founder of WeWork was able to raise so much money on extremely high valuations while his company is loosing an excessive amount of money. The book doesn’t focus purely on WeWork and tells the stories of many different people such as the founder of Softbank. The book also explains the fierce competetion by banks to win over IPOs of tech companies and how toxic the environment around tech companies funding is becoming.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Gilmartin

    Loved this- as entertaining as it is informative. The authors really show what grifters the Neumann's are- all the bad press didn't even encapsulate how awful they really were. While I don't often laugh at other's misfortune, the Neumann's were truly awful people. Definitely a great read- best non-fiction business book I have read in a few years. Loved this- as entertaining as it is informative. The authors really show what grifters the Neumann's are- all the bad press didn't even encapsulate how awful they really were. While I don't often laugh at other's misfortune, the Neumann's were truly awful people. Definitely a great read- best non-fiction business book I have read in a few years.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Luigib

    Great book!! Interesting, comprehensive, and well written.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Newkirk

    This was well written, researched and painted a great timeline of the rise and fall of We Work. I walked away from this thinking - wow, Neumann really is just an immature narcissist and the bankers and employees who let him play with this company like a child without raising concerns are also complicit in its demise. Time and time again it is shocking to me how people just overlook fatal flaws in business because of a charismatic leader. This was super fascinating and definitely well done, I don This was well written, researched and painted a great timeline of the rise and fall of We Work. I walked away from this thinking - wow, Neumann really is just an immature narcissist and the bankers and employees who let him play with this company like a child without raising concerns are also complicit in its demise. Time and time again it is shocking to me how people just overlook fatal flaws in business because of a charismatic leader. This was super fascinating and definitely well done, I don’t think many people realize just how much influence We Work has had over the startup and world economy. Definitely recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Diego Gomes

    Watch the documentary instead… Book is good, great writing, catchy narrative. But brings no material relevance when compared to the Hulu doc, and you’ll only spend one hour.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarunas

    Just as with Bad Blood, this book needs two ratings, one for story itself and another for storytelling I would give both 10. It is sad though that Adam Neumann and Jordan Belfort did not do business in a same decade. I could imagine what kind of synergy these two could achieve with Adam's skills to attract money and Jordan's qualification to party with that money. Might be bit too large and bit too bold even for Son. Just as with Bad Blood, this book needs two ratings, one for story itself and another for storytelling I would give both 10. It is sad though that Adam Neumann and Jordan Belfort did not do business in a same decade. I could imagine what kind of synergy these two could achieve with Adam's skills to attract money and Jordan's qualification to party with that money. Might be bit too large and bit too bold even for Son.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter Baran

    Its interesting that the WeWork documentary has just come out, and after reading this I am interested to see how it abridges basically the same story. Because this book is an exhaustive (and occasionally exhausting) document of the excesses and failings of the highly toted, big spending and in the end failing business. The problem the book has, which it admits early on, is this list of excess just seems too obvious. From a clear eyed position after the fact, that a company that leases serviced o Its interesting that the WeWork documentary has just come out, and after reading this I am interested to see how it abridges basically the same story. Because this book is an exhaustive (and occasionally exhausting) document of the excesses and failings of the highly toted, big spending and in the end failing business. The problem the book has, which it admits early on, is this list of excess just seems too obvious. From a clear eyed position after the fact, that a company that leases serviced offices is just a version of real estate company seems obvious. From the outside the amount of control the CEO had, and the constant leveraging for expansion without getting anywhere near profit seems an obvious flag. But Neumann, that self same CEO, is also presented as am extremely charismatic guru type salesman. And for that I would probably need to see him in action. The book goes in to accessible, but quite painstaking detail, as to that expansion. It is very much a perfect storm of the current tech investing environment, a leadership figure and investors (particularly one investor). The mind boggles when SoftBank fund investor Son suggests Neumann get more crazy, that he invested billions on the back of gut feelings about people rather than evidence and balance sheets. Brown and Farrell make all of this very readable, with bite sized chunks which only occasionally feel like "look at what these crazy kooks did now". And it is 90% rise, considering the fall (to a potentially solvent property company) only happened last year. Both this, and I am guessing the documentary, may well be missing an epilogue about what the company eventually looks like, and what the new banished CEO and coterie are doing now. There will always be a bit of the drive-by carcrash sightseeer to a book like this, and whilst they don't linger, they are disdainful enough of the antics over the ten year period - particularly where it lies of excess, bullying and what leads to the crash. However there is also of course a cautionary tale, and one that is almost as old as time. If something looks to good to be true - particularly when it is financial - it probably is. The Cult Of We is a good title because it was exactly that: everyone wanted to believe that what on paper replicated an already existing business model (first time I heard of it I thought of Regus), was a magical unicorn. It wasn't, and it isn't and this will tell exactly why.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    If you were in NYC between 2017-2019, you would’ve known about WeWork. WeWork banners/flags on buildings, employees, members, and or random people wearing WeWork shirts/ merchandise. It was showcased and talked about everywhere ~ CNBC, the news, Twitter, and even Baruch (where Adam gave that cringe-worthy speech during a graduation) professors talked about it. Since this was before the “Fall,” everyone only talked good things. Before moving on from that school, one professor mentioned that WeWor If you were in NYC between 2017-2019, you would’ve known about WeWork. WeWork banners/flags on buildings, employees, members, and or random people wearing WeWork shirts/ merchandise. It was showcased and talked about everywhere ~ CNBC, the news, Twitter, and even Baruch (where Adam gave that cringe-worthy speech during a graduation) professors talked about it. Since this was before the “Fall,” everyone only talked good things. Before moving on from that school, one professor mentioned that WeWork was planning to create SPEs in 2019 (before the hyped up IPO) and asked the class if they knew what an SPE was. I raised my hand. A year ago, I took a bullshit ethics class where we learned about the executive moves behind Enron and the banks behind the ‘08 housing crisis. It’s a special purpose entity (SPE). It’s a paper company that the parent company uses to transact with so that they can make their books look better. It’s a tool, not a company. I’m proud that I said that “if WeWork was planning on using that instrument, they will fail as a business.” I was smiling when WeWork went down in flames that year and later upset that thousands lost their jobs while Adam left with ~$1.5 billion. NYT said he mastered “The Art of Failing Up.” Glad it was short lived. This book (and Reeves’ Billion Dollar Loser) gave the full picture. Elliot and Maureen did an excellent job of explaining the rise (somehow perfecting the private/ venture capital market) and fall (somehow scaring away future public investors) of a (once) hyped up company. Can’t wait for Apple TV’s production of a WeWork series. Showtime is going to showcase Uber’s Super-Pumped soon (read that book if you haven’t!!)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    3.5 stars. Interesting, well-written story about the rise and fall of WeWork, a shared office space company that became the darling of VCs and hedge funds during the dot.com craze. Supposedly sophisticated investors are enamored with the company's eccentric founder and CEO, Adam Neumann, an Israeli transplant whose goals include brokering world peace and becoming the world's first trillionaire. In multiple rounds of funding. Neumann raises a staggering $10 billion, mostly on the strength of his 3.5 stars. Interesting, well-written story about the rise and fall of WeWork, a shared office space company that became the darling of VCs and hedge funds during the dot.com craze. Supposedly sophisticated investors are enamored with the company's eccentric founder and CEO, Adam Neumann, an Israeli transplant whose goals include brokering world peace and becoming the world's first trillionaire. In multiple rounds of funding. Neumann raises a staggering $10 billion, mostly on the strength of his personality. This house of cards collapses when financial disclosures in the company's pre-IPO prospectus reveal the company's massive and unsustainable losses with no end in sight. The early start-up years and period leading up to the IPO are the most interesting parts of this story; the middle section bogs down a bit when Neumann repeatedly goes back to the same investors for more funding. In this genre, I liked the book about Theranos's founder slightly better simply because her actions were more outrageous. A classic and highly recommended read in this space is Barbarians at the Gate, about one of the first's and largest hostile takeovers.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eriche

    What a wild ride.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Evan Clark

    The extraordinary WeWork story is my favourite business tale from the 2010s - and this book tells it better than any other I’ve read.

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