WeWork: The millennial start-up dream that shattered into pieces

It promised to revolutionise office life for the Instagram generation, but then it gobbled up billions of dollars… and reality bit

We are taking over the world! We are taking over the world!’ It was 2011, and Adam Neumann was stumbling, intoxicated, towards the lift of a private members’ club in Hong Kong, blaring Jay Z from a portable speaker. A car was waiting at the exit to whisk him and his new investor to a waiting private jet. Suit-clad diners stared as the 6ft 4in, 32-year-old entrepreneur revelled in his newest cash injection, secured over Peking duck – one that would soon lead his company to a valuation of $47 billion.

For almost a decade, Neumann – whose bombast and self-belief towered far above his huge frame – would continue to shake the pockets of venture capitalists (VCs) around the world, creating a company with 14,500 employees and 800 offices spread across 33 countries; not bad for a kid who hadn’t learnt to read until he was eight.

Comment by Clive Bonny 9 Aug 2021 9:33AM

Investors failed to perform basic due diligence on the business model and senior management skills. These are two vital fundamentals and easy to conduct. Equal pity that investigative journalists failed to explore this. UK’s post-pandemic boom in New Co registrations (770,000 last year) will give WeWork and other space renters a lifeline but few of them offer tenants appropriate professionally qualified business management advice and business continuity planning. Is this another car crash coming down the road?