The brand new documentary about WeWork begins with Adam Neumann letting out a fart.
It’s 2019, and Neumann, the corporate’s charismatic founder and then-CEO, is recording a video for WeWork’s roadshow, the standard displays executives make to traders as they put together an organization to go public. Flatulence isn’t the one subject for Neumann. He struggles to learn the teleprompter. He calls for silence from everybody within the room, insisting that he would get the script proper if everybody may simply shut up. It’s this sort of archival footage that makes WeWork: Or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn price watching.
The story of WeWork—the starry-eyed founder raised on a kibbutz, the true property firm rebranded as expertise startup, the bamboozled traders, and the failed IPO—is properly documented by now. Journalists lined in actual time the corporate’s meteoric rise and, extra lately, its deflation. Reeves Wiedeman’s thorough account, Billion Greenback Loser, was revealed in October. A second e-book, The Cult of We by Wall Avenue Journal writers Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell, comes out this summer season. WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork tells the identical story in podcast type. Apple is now creating a WeCrashed adaptation for its streaming service, starring Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway. Extra scripted dramas are within the works, together with one other TV collection and a film.
Which is all to say that WeWork the documentary, which premiered at South by Southwest this week and comes out April 2 on Hulu, isn’t the one historical past of the coworking firm on the market, neither is it probably the most complete. However the movie gives a simple crash course within the materials, particularly for individuals who don’t prefer to learn. What WeWork lacks intimately, it makes up for within the immediacy of its medium. Billion Greenback Loser mentions that Neumann is dyslexic; within the documentary you possibly can immediately see his frustration with the teleprompter. Equally, Neumann’s grandiose statements about himself and his firm come off in a different way while you hear them straight from his mouth quite than quoted on the web page.
WeWork’s director, Jed Rothstein, is greatest identified for tales of spiritual terrorism and monetary fraud. His portrayal of Neumann takes on related themes of maximum greed and self-grandeur. This isn’t a documentary about an organization, actually, however a personality research of its larger-than-life chief. Notably, though WeWork has one other cofounder—Miguel McKelvey, an architect who gave WeWork its signature design—he isn’t talked about a lot within the movie. As a substitute, WeWork delves into Neumann’s background, his household, and his imaginative and prescient.
From the get-go, WeWork was greater than workplace house. It was “the world’s first bodily social community.” It wasn’t for individuals at work, however for individuals doing what they love. Neumann is a unprecedented salesperson for his thought, each to traders and prospects in addition to his personal staff. The documentary attracts on testimonials from many former WeWorkers, who clarify the attraction to the corporate, and to Neumann. These sit-down interviews make WeWork really feel, at occasions, like a documentary a couple of cult. However in addition they add essential nuance to a narrative that’s simply lowered into its extra outlandish particulars. One of many firm’s former legal professionals seems onscreen to elucidate just a few of the extra legally doubtful enterprise selections, however he additionally talks about how enjoyable it was to work there. This wasn’t only a sizzling, new startup, it was an organization with a mission—one doing nothing lower than altering the world. “It wasn’t nearly altering the way in which individuals work. We have been going to alter, in the end, each side of the way in which individuals work together,” Megan Mallow, Neumann’s former assistant, says within the movie. “It actually spoke to me.” Publicly, Neumann mentioned that each WeWork worker was given fairness. However in actuality, staff got inventory choices—usually to compensate for low salaries—most of which ended up being price nothing.