Existential crises and insecurity often makes you take extreme measures. It prevents you from seeing the positive side of things and thinking rationally. Rebekah Neumann was going through a similar phase in her life. In the previous episode of “WeCrashed,” we saw how she felt left out from the scheme of things. She craved attention, not only from her husband but from the world. She had always been this person who wanted to be in the limelight. She was not competing with Adam in any manner whatsoever. But she wanted importance. She was fine playing the second fiddle, but she didn’t want to be sidelined, even when she knew she didn’t bring anything substantial to the plate or that there were more deserving and able candidates who could do a better job.
She had started out with Adam Neumann, thinking that she would be an equal partner and that they would build WeWork together. She knew that Adam would handle the business side of things, and she would be responsible for the branding, the outlook and the soul of the company. But in life, things do not always happen the way you plan them.
“WeCrashed” Episode 5 focuses on two aspects that have the potential to define the future of the company. Where Adam has a newfound clarity about the path he needs to follow, Rebekah knows what she needs to do to put an end to the internal conflict that she is facing. So let’s dissect the sensibilities of the power couple, Adam and Rebekah Neumann, and analyze the impact their decisions are going to have on the future of the company.
‘WeCrashed’ Episode 5: Recap Summary
Adam Neuman had gone to JP Morgan Chase bank to ask for a credit of 50 million dollars. The chairman of JPMC, Jamie, tells Adam that his primary challenge is liquidity, as he had only 43,000 dollars in his account even though his company had received billions. His shares could not be accessed without a liquidity event. Jamie offers Adam a credit of 100 million dollars and also proposes to be his personal banker.
From the four billion-dollar investment, which Adam had gotten from Masa, he started the expansion vociferously. From Paris to Warsaw, WeWork was making its presence felt everywhere.
Adam sends a gift to Rebekah. It was a Times subscription card, but Rebekah was a bit amused as she was expecting the gift to be something grander. But it was not a normal subscription. Adam had made it into the Times 100 list of most influential people for the year and WeWork had expanded to 20 new locations. It was all going well for the Neumanns.
Apart from WeWork, there were other competitors in the market too. In this case, the competitors had formed a coalition that was called Five Families. Together they held almost 90 percent of the coworking space in the U.S. They made strategies together, and instead of working against each other, they combined their forces in a way that everybody benefited. But Adam’s ideologies don’t align with any of them. Jamie Hodari, who was one of the members of the Five Families coalition, is disappointed by Adam’s behavior, and so are the rest of the members. Adam used to ride his own wave and many times didn’t concede to their cumulative viewpoints.
The Times ceremony took place, and Rebekah gets an epiphany that has a bitter taste. She was anticipating the moment for quite some while, but she realized that her status quo had been reduced to just being “Adam’s Wife.” She didn’t have any standing of her own. She feels disregarded and unwelcomed. Rebekah is not very comfortable in her current space, and things start pinching her ego and boosting a feeling of exclusion inside her.
Was Elishia Kennedy Fired By Adam Neumann?
The Times 100 ceremony turned out to be a debacle for a conceited Rebekah. She goes to WeWork, only to find out that her office was being used by the events planning team. Rebekah was very particular about people not wearing shoes in her office, and she saw the people using her office, wearing them. She goes to the HR and gets Jeff Winitsky, who was heading the events planning team, fired immediately.
But it was not about the shoes or people using her office as a spare conference room. She realized she was not a part of the functioning. She felt like an outsider. She got a glimpse of Elishia talking to another worker, and it made her even more insecure. Elishia had met Adam through her. Though she was an accomplished business woman herself, Rebekah feels that she used her to get to Adam. Elishia asks Rebekah out for a drink, because she senses that something isn’t right with her. Elishia assures Rebekah that she was not so unscrupulous as to just make friends in order to get a position but she actually liked Rebekah’s company, and thought of her as a true friend.
But when a seed of insecurity is sown, it is hard to get rid of it. Rebekah feels invisible; she feels inconsequential, and seeing her friend Elishia being such an essential part of WeWork, that feeling is aggravated even more.
Elisha connects Rebekah to Jonathan Mildenhall, a branding consultant. She meets him to understand what she could do to be seen in the light she wants. There was a particular moment that defined the course of the narrative that was to follow. Q-Tip, the American rapper, comes to the WeWork office. An employee makes him meet Elishia, where he introduces her as the spirit guide of WeWork, and he praises her as much as he can, while Rebekah stands there awkwardly and feeling totally out of place.
Rebekah gets to know that Vanity Fair was organizing an interview with the CEO and the Chief Branding Officer of We Works, i.e., Adam and Elishia, respectively. The news serves as a tipping point. Rebekah had always wanted to be in Vanity Fair.
She talks to Adam and tells him that she is worried about the soul of the company. She influenced him to let her take Elishia’s position. Overnight, a decision is made, and Elishia is informed about the same the next day. Elishia feels betrayed and devastated. She confronts Rebekah and accuses her of backstabbing her. Rebekah offered her to take any other position in the company of her liking, but Elishia’s ego and self-respect were too bruised to be a part of WeWork still. She storms out of the room, giving Rebekah a reality check that she would never be able to be on an equal pedestal as Adam, as she lacked the talent and skill to do so.
What Did Masayoshi Son Expect From Adam Neumann/Wework?
The expansion into 20 different countries didn’t appease Masayoshi Son (Masa). He was expecting a greater return on his investment. He had bet his money, not on WeWork, but on the intent of Adam Neumann. Adam and his partner, Miguel, decipher the reason behind Masa’s not feeling impressed. He had invested approximately 20 million dollars in Alibaba, a Chinese multinational technology company, which had now turned into 150 billion dollars. Adam assumes that Masa was expecting an ROI that was 8000 times the investment he made. Adam was ready to do anything to achieve that number.
Miguel and Adam go to Tokyo to meet Masa. He tells both of them that a dream to conquer the world cannot be fulfilled if a person is rational in his approach. He says that a little bit of craziness is essential so that you entertain a possibility that others seem to think is impossible. Adam takes the cue and sets up a meeting with Jamie Hodari, who was one of the members of the Five Families coalition. He gives him two options, to either let WeWork take over his market share cordially or else he would take it by exercising his influence and financial superiority.
Time will tell whether the impulsive decisions made by Adam Neumann paid off or not. Adam was treading on thin ice. He had made his inexperienced wife the Chief Branding Officer, and was now wanting to capture a majority of the market share. People at Benchmark Capital were already losing faith in his tactics, but somehow, Masa’s investments had kept his company afloat. The upcoming episodes will tell us whether Adam’s madness will make WeWork a phenomenon like Amazon, or whether it will become the reason for its downfall.