WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn
The reviews are in.
The new documentary movie about the true story behind the WeWork debacle is due out on April 2. Airing on Hulu, it deals with the six-week “death spiral” that brought down the company’s IPO. The filmmakers describe it as a behind-the-scenes look at WeWork’s “frat-boy culture.”
The company’s first aspiration for a multibillion IPO fell apart when Adam Neumann was forced out of WeWork. The Israeli born Neumann was brought down by allegations of serious drug use and sexual improprieties. These included stories of drug use and wild sexual activities taking place aboard private jets paid for by the company and while on company business. Women said that they were sexually assaulted during such flights. Neumann reportedly walked away with a $1.7 billion deal. But WeWork was forced to deal with sexual harassment suits, delayed its planned IPO and laid off many workers.
Movie review website Rotten Tomatoes currently gives the movie a 77% rating.
The Hollywood Reporter says that it is “comprehensive but politically and creatively timid account of Neumann’s extravagant flameout. A SXSW selection, the film doesn’t hold back on Neumann or his “delusions of grandeur.”
Rothstein organizes his tale of WeWork’s rise and fall around Neumann’s promise of community. (Factoring heavily in the startup’s appeal, argue the doc’s journalist talking heads, is its origin story, which begins with Neumann and his co-founder Miguel McKelvey’s childhoods growing up on communes on opposite sides of the globe.)”
Variety calls it a “very entertaining postmortem.”
“A measure of forgiveness is offered toward his theoretically pure, then tainted intentions at the close, when the film poignantly reaffirms the much-touted value of community — not just in our digital era but mid-pandemic, when human interaction has been so drastically reduced. It’s a touching observation, though ending on a COVID-centric montage of interviewees masking up may date “WeWork” rather quickly.”
The San Francisco Chronicle writes, “Director Jed Rothstein, who proved he knew his way around big financial malfeasance with the 2017 doc “The China Hustle,” deploys several credible business reporters and justifiably disgruntled ex-employees to detail the smoke-and-mirrors real estate phenomenon. Between the talking heads, Rothstein uses kinetic imagery and spry cutting to keep the potentially eye-glazing subject matter as gripping as a true crime mystery, which it kind of was.”