There is a great expression in English, “fake it till you make it.” Basically, it means that you have to pretend that something is true (“fake it”), until it actually becomes true (“you make it”). The founder of WeWork, a coworking company once valued at $47 billion, has lived by this advice. For years, he was telling investors that WeWork is a huge successful start-up, that it is “the next Facebook”, and that it will “elevate the world’s consciousness”. But — and here is another great expression — it was mostly “smoke and mirrors” (i.e. not true).
WeWork was getting more and more investment, and it grew extensively. By 2019, nine years after its founding, the company had nearly 800 coworking spaces in 124 cities around the world. In the USA, it became the absolute market leader. But with so many new locations opening every week, WeWork was simply unprofitable — its expenses were always bigger than the revenue. At the end of 2019, WeWork famously failed its IPO and was heavily criticised for its business model. WeWork’s founder, Adam Neumann, was forced to leave the company. As of 2022, WeWork is valued at $5 billion — ten times less than it used to be.
For some people, Adam Neumann is a classic fraud. As a genius salesman, he used his talents and his charisma to lie and convince everyone around him that he was building a company that would change the world. But for others, he is an inspirational dreamer, who believes in what he does, as any start-up founder should. After all, wasn’t Steve Jobs saying from the beginning that he had created the best computer in the world? WeCrashed, a TV series about WeWork starring the Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto as Adam Neumann, premiered in March 2022. So now you can watch the full story and decide for yourself.