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“WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn,” the Jed Rothstein-directed documentary about the rise and fall of former billionaire business tycoon, Adam Neumann, premiered exclusively on Hulu on Friday.
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“WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn,” goes inside the multi-billion dollar real-estate company’s IPO disaster that saw its founders step down. Neumann and his wife, Rebecca, co-founded WeWork in 2010, alongside business partner, Miguel McKelvey. The real estate company, which offers shared workspaces and was once valued at $47 billion, attempted to go public back in 2019. The move raised questions over WeWork’s business practices, management tactics, and the company’s ability to make money (WeWork lost nearly $2 billion in 2018). Neumann was ousted as CEO in 2019, and McKelvey announced his resignation last year.
Rothstein recently explained why investors were drawn to Neumann. “He’s very charismatic. The younger people and the people who worked for him bought into the idea that they were part of something that was bigger than themselves and that they were going to do things differently and change the world,” he said. “In terms of more sophisticated investors, he offered some excitement to a pretty staid business. If you’re in the real estate business, you have a steady business. It’s a tough business and it’s usually populated by guys in gray suits. And Adam was able to offer something different and position WeWork as part of this cultural disruption and revolution that was going on in Silicon Valley.”
Neumann may have been able to sell investors and employees on his vision, but the documentary has some blinds spots for viewers to sift through, IndieWire TV critic Ben Travers writes, “The film ultimately suffers from an overfamiliarity in not just construction but content; the ‘WeWork’ documentary paints a broad portrait of what happened without expanding on (or even including) details that made previous exposés so juicy. Also trying is its reliance on Neumann as a magnetic central figure, a choice as misguided as it is inflated. Maybe the tall and talkative ex-CEO had enough in-person charisma to charm all those moneymen 10 years ago, but he’s just another empty T-shirt in 2021. He can’t carry the doc, and its insistence on keeping Neumann front and center glosses over the company’s more intriguing characters, especially its most fervent believers.”