The first three episodes of the Apple original, “WeCrashed,” have told us one thing for sure, i.e., Adam Neumann has a lot of convincing power. Adam cannot take “no” for an answer, even if it means making bad business choices. He is a great sales guy but becomes a bit too persistent for anybody’s liking.
Adam is impulsive, and his decisions often make the investors question his intent. He took the whole workforce of WeWork to a summer camp, and the partners at Benchmark Capital debated how necessary it was to do so, considering the company was incurring huge losses every passing day. People had this complaint that Adam used to spend a lot on things that didn’t matter. He would readily pay for a party or expensive drinks, but wouldn’t pay his employees a good salary. Adam had one philosophy: channeling money was the only solution to the myriad of strategic issues that WeWork was facing. He didn’t want to pay attention to the fallacies in his business model. The question was, how long could WeWork sustain itself in the market?
‘WeCrashed’ Episode 4: Recap Summary
At Benchmark Capital, Bruce Denlevie was defending Adam, but he knew deep down that he wouldn’t be able to do it for long. Cameron Lautner, his colleague, thinks that Adam lacks business sense.
More than the business model of WeWork, Bruce had placed his bets on its CEO, Adam Neumann. He had found Adam to be a force of nature. There were questions raised about the role of Rebekah Neumann also. She was found lurking everywhere, but she didn’t hold any formal position as of now.
Adam had planned to open 40 new locations in the coming year, but the management told him that they were not in a position to do so. Adam had always had this knack for making his way through, no matter how big the barrier was. Adam gives everybody an example of Starbucks, which opened two stores a day, and he wanted WeWork to make the same progress at the same pace. He asks the sales team to do whatever it takes to bag a deal, even if it means doubling the lease tenure or treating the landlords to a lavish meal. His method was simple: blow the minds of the landlords with something that they didn’t expect, and that would put them in a condition where they wouldn’t be able to say no.
Adam was told that the company was inevitably going to lose 400 million in the current year. So instead of looking into the unnecessary expenses incurred, Adam decides to bring another investor on board. He says that rapid growth comes at a cost, and he was ready to pay for it. Adam once again goes to Bruce Denlevie and paints a pretty picture, but his request for more money is turned down. Adam then tells his assistant to book him a flight to Tokyo as he wanted to meet a businessman named Masayoshi Son, founder, and CEO of Softbank. He is told that Masayoshi Son was not in Tokyo but attending a flagship initiative by the government of India called Startup India. Adam makes a hasty decision and books a flight to India directly. His assistants contacted the organizers and got him a speaking slot.
Why Does Adam Take His Father To Attend Startup India?
Adam was a showman, and he was ready to do anything to put up a great show. While on the way to catch a flight to India, he calls his assistant Phil and tells him that he would need a plus one for the conference. He takes his father instead of his wife, Rebekah. It is surprising as Adam didn’t share a close bond with his father and had a lot of grudges against him. His father was very happy as he thought that his son was trying to mend their bond. But Adam had an ulterior motive behind all this. When he goes on the stage to speak, he tells everybody how lonely and sad his childhood was. He tells the audience that he was heartbroken when his parents got divorced. Adam appeals to everybody’s emotions and then tells them how the ideology behind WeWork has led him to repair his relationship with his father. He tells everybody that WeWork is not just a shared office space, but about inclusivity and finding a sense of belongingness.
Adam used his father as a prop. He had no intention of repairing the father-son relationship. His only intention was to lure Masayoshi Son into investing in WeWork.
Did Masa (Masayoshi Son) Invest In WeWork?
Masayoshi Son was an outsider. Though he was born on 11th August 1957 in Japan, he was never considered as Japanese and had to go through a lot of discrimination. His family took a Japanese surname, but it still didn’t change the fact that he was third-generation Zainichi Korean. Masayoshi had to spend his childhood in depravity. His grandfather was a miner, and his father was a pig farmer. He had defied the odds and made his way up the ladder. Adam was exactly able to hit on that sweet spot where he knew that emotions would get the better of logic and statistics. Both of them were underdogs, and even though Masayoshi was at the top of the food chain now, that feeling of anarchy hadn’t completely vanished from his core. He still rooted for people like Adam, who were trying to cause a disruption in the system. Masayoshi saw his younger self in Adam.
Adam, on the other hand, had opened WeWork labs just to show Masayoshi that his company was also doing some work in the field of information technology. The investors from Benchmark Capital told him to shut it down immediately as it was a non-performing asset for a company that dealt in commercial real estate.
After stalling more than once to meet Adam, Masayoshi Son finally met him. He tells Adam that he knew the reason why his speech was focussed on loneliness during the Startup India conclave. Masayoshi knew that Adam wanted to grab his attention. Masayoshi Son agreed to make a whopping investment of 4.4 billion dollars in WeWork.
Why did Rebekah feel bad when Adam Neumann hired Elishia Kennedy?
Rebekah Neumann had started to feel that she was slowly being abandoned. Adam did not have time for her, and she was not a part of the inner decision-making committee as she once used to be. Even the partners at Benchmark Capital were asking why Rebekah was always lurking around when she didn’t have any official position. WeWork was in a delicate state. The company was losing approximately 2.4 million dollars every day. Adam was working seven days a week and didn’t have much time to spare. The work-life balance had completely gone for a toss.
At a school fundraiser, Rebekah meets Elishia Kennedy for the first time. They hit it off straight away. Elishia was going through a divorce with her husband, Mark, and intuitively suspected that even Rebekah was going through one. Rebekah hid the fact that she was going through a rough patch with Adam. Rebekah found out that Elishia herself was a successful entrepreneur and her juice company was the next big thing in the market. As soon as Rebekah gets to know this, she makes an effort to come close to Elishia. She purposely goes to drop her daughter, as she knows that Elishia will be there dropping her daughter too. Rebekah invites her to the WeWork office, where Elishia meets Adam for the very first time. Without wasting a moment, Adam gives Elishia an offer to join WeWork.
Later, during a family dinner, Rebekah comes to know that Elishia had accepted Adam’s offer and joined WeWork as Chief Branding Officer. Rebekah feels disheartened as, once again, she was kept out of the loop, as Elishia had not even given her a hint that she was joining WeWork. Rebekah wanted to feel involved as she had invested a lot emotionally in the family. But she was left alone to look after the kids while Adam conquered the world. She was not looking for equal status, as she was fine playing the second fiddle. But she hated being in a state where she felt totally neglected and unaware of the proceedings.
In the last scene of “WeCrashed” Episode 4, we see that Adam tells Rebekah about the 4.4 billion in funding that was coming from Masayoshi Son. He tells Rebekah that he has done all this for the family. We see the tears of reconciliation on Rebekah’s face. She had craved for this attention and importance from Adam. With 4.4 billion dollars and newfound hope, Adam Neumann was all set to change the course of things.