Adam Neumann's Antics, WeWork's Collapse Will Be A Documentary
That is the bet Business Insider is making, saying Tuesday that it will be producing a documentary about The We Company, Adam Neumann and where it all went wrong. Partnering with BI on the project is production studio Campfire, which was behind Netflix true crime docuseries The Innocent Man.
Neumann's towering ambition and seeming disregard for practicality will be front and center in BI's treatment, which will be based on its own original reporting led by editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell. That reporting included insider accounts of Neumann's excesses and play-by-plays of the fallout from that fateful IPO prospectus.
No distribution deal has been announced, so it will be some time before the public finds out where it can go to relive the drama of the past two months. But the appetite for stories of Silicon Valley ambition and hard-partying corporate visionaries — and what happens when the other shoe drops — has been proven.
The story of Elizabeth Holmes and her failed blood-testing startup Theranos may be one reason why investors rejected WeWork's aspirational IPO, BI reports, and became the subject of a best-selling nonfiction book and an HBO documentary.
Billy McFarland's ability to charm investors with big ideas that lacked the infrastructure to support them created the disaster that was Fyre Festival, which was documented in real time on social media before receiving dueling documentary treatments from Hulu and Netflix. Neumann's commonalities with McFarland have not gone unnoticed.
The similarities between Holmes, McFarland and Neumann end in the consequences each has faced — so far. McFarland is serving prison time for fraud and Holmes' own fraud trial is set to begin next year, but Neumann was paid around $1.7B to walk away from WeWork this week, even as the company laid off thousands of workers.
As WeWork staff past and present express outrage at Neumann's platinum parachute, his story and that of his company seem far from over. BI may already have its cameras rolling.