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 shows executives make to buyers as they put together an organization to go public. Flatulence isn’t the one concern 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 might 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 buyers, and the failed IPO—is nicely 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 printed in October. A second ebook, The Cult of We by Wall Road Journal writers Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell, comes out this summer time. WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork tells the identical story in podcast kind. Apple is now growing 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 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 affords a simple crash course within the materials, particularly for many 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 may immediately see his frustration with the teleprompter. Equally, Neumann’s grandiose statements about himself and his firm come off in a different way whenever you hear them straight from his mouth relatively than quoted on the web page.
WeWork’s director, Jed Rothstein, is greatest recognized for tales of non secular terrorism and monetary fraud. His portrayal of Neumann takes on comparable themes of maximum greed and self-grandeur. This isn’t a documentary about an organization, actually, however a personality examine of its larger-than-life chief. Notably, although 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 an alternative, 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 folks at work, however for folks doing what they love. Neumann is a rare salesperson for his concept, each to buyers and clients in addition to his personal workers. 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 additionally they add vital nuance to a narrative that’s simply diminished 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 best way folks work. We had been going to vary, in the end, each aspect of the best way folks work together,” Megan Mallow, Neumann’s former assistant, says within the movie. “It actually spoke to me.” Publicly, Neumann stated that each WeWork worker was given fairness. However in actuality, workers got inventory choices—usually to compensate for low salaries—most of which ended up being price nothing.