cover image The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann and the Great Startup Delusion

The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann and the Great Startup Delusion

Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell. Crown, $28 (464p) ISBN 978-0-593-23711-3

Wall Street Journal reporters Brown and Farrell trace the rise and fall of WeWork in this drama-filled debut, a cautionary tale of startup excess. Brown and Farrell follow charming, ambitious, and reckless founder and CEO Adam Neumann from his start as a baby clothes salesman in 2006 to the head of a unicorn startup that carried a market value of tens of billions of dollars. WeWork’s early success stoked unheard-of investments, but increasing ambitions and a lack of focus (including the goal to overhaul the world’s education system) drove such erratic corporate behavior as acquiring a wave pool maker in hopes of enhancing WeWork communities. After several years of dizzying growth, though, in 2019, $40 billion in the company’s value “vanished, virtually overnight” as it became clear WeWork was “simply a real estate company” and not a tech enterprise. Brown and Farrell write in sharp prose as they cover drug-fueled private jet flights, financial shenanigans, and a botched IPO, enlivening what could have been a dry postmortem of a failed startup. A delicious chronicle of hubris and misjudgment, this will hit the spot for fans of business tales that walk on the wild side. Agent: Eric Lipfer, Fletcher & Co. (July)