We recommend this page turning account of the improbable meteoric rise and ultimate fall of WeWork and its CEO, Adam Neumann. Focused more on selling a vision than producing results, Neumann uses his prodigious personal charisma to raise billions from private investors. He turns what was essentially an upscale co-working businesses into the most valuable private start up in history by convincing experienced investors that WeWork was more than a real estate firm; rather it was a physical social network and source from which a utopian collective of related businesses would spring.
Neumann was eventually ousted by the company’s board when a planned IPO revealed WeWork’s massive losses and growth projections disconnected from reality. Remarkably, Neumann made out just fine. He received an exit package of $1.7billion while employees who thought their equity was worth millions ended up with NOTHING. Although WeWork remains a going concern today, its valuation is less than a tenth of what it was before Neumann’s exit. How was Neumann able to continually raise capital at ever greater valuations without any real data to back up his grandiose plans?
A lesson in greed, irrational exuberance, and fear of missing out, the story is instructive of how someone like Neumann could become the biggest Billion Dollar Loser.