In the first episode of Season 2, Oven-Ready-HR podcast’s Chris Taylor takes an in-depth look at the fall-out from the ill-fated IPO of co-working giant WeWork.
A business created in the sharp-elbowed real estate market in New York, WeWork came to define what an office and organisational culture should look like for legions of millennials and generation Z worker. It spawned countless imitations with competitors scrambling to keep up with its innovations and number of openings.
At the helm was co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann whose extraordinary energy and vision combined with an enormous talent for self -promotion and propaganda was almost messianic. Yet underneath a business that seemingly carried all before it were some troubling signs:
- A lack of corporate governance and at times an appropriate adult in the room
- An alcohol-fuelled work culture that appeared more at home in the Frat House than the boardroom
- A senior team that lacked diversity and where nepotism was celebrated not questioned
- The fear and greed of investors seemingly content to pour more cash into a business that was losing focus and continuing to burn through billions of dollars of funding.
Charting this extraordinary story is Reeves Wiedeman whose book Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Fall of WeWork provides a meticulously researched account from WeWork’s conception through to its failed stock market debut. Wiedeman is a contributing editor at New York Magazine and has written for The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Harpers and Rolling Stone.