Previously, in “WeCrashed” Episode 5, we saw that Adam Neumann went all guns blazing, as he had got a license from Masayoshi Son to be crazy. Elishia Kennedy was coerced to leave her position, and Rebekah Paltrow Neumann became the new Chief Branding Officer for WeWork. Rebekah had been feeling left out for a very long time. She realized that she had ceased to be a part of the decision-making team and was unaware of any proceedings in the company. During the Times 100 ceremony, that feeling was aggravated even more.
Adam was being given all the credit for making WeWork one of the greatest entrepreneurial ventures of all time. Rebekah felt that she deserved a small amount of praise and recognition for her efforts too. She was in that room with Miguel and Adam when they had sold off Greendesk and were discussing a probable name for their venture. She considered herself the spiritual guide of WeWork, and had given the motto of the company, i.e., elevating the world’s conscience. Elishia wanted to change that and make it more objective in nature. She was also going to be a part of an interview conducted by Vanity Fair. It had been Rebekah’s dream to feature in the magazine. That was the tipping point for Rebekah. She used her influence to convince Adam to make her the Chief Branding Officer. Though Rebekah and Adam never fired Elishia, they hurt her ego and self-respect so much that she had no option but to leave the company. It was the dawn of a new era that had the potential to chart the course of the narrative for WeWork.
What Did Rebekah Pitch To Adam?
In the 6th episode of “WeCrashed” we see Adam was finally at peace internally. He had Masayoshi Son’s full support and was given complete autonomy. Though his other investor, Benchmark Capital, didn’t approve of his actions and often raised doubts about how beneficial his decisions would be for the sustainable future of the company. Rebekah was a believer in the power of manifestation. She knew that they could manifest anything they wanted. They went to Corte Madera, California, to have some downtime and celebrate their achievements. Miguel was left in a compromising situation where he had to talk to the board members and face the onslaught alone, while Adam decided to work from Corte Madera itself.
Rebekah, while pondering upon the direction in which the company should move, pitches to Adam that they should reinstate their original vision in their current scheme of things. Adam and Miguel wanted to create a physical, social network, which Adam called “Concept Living”. Rebekah now wants that WeWork shouldn’t limit itself to just being a shared working space. She wanted to extend its wings. She wanted WeWork to have its own airlines, schools, banks, etc. She believed that only then could they build a physical, social network. Adam likes the idea and asks Rebekah to work towards it.
The investors at Benchmark got to know about this development through a news interview that Adam gave. He almost pitched for initiating a WeWork airlines on national television. The investors are aghast. They do not understand the bizarre ways and means of Adam Neumann. Bruce, who was his only ally from the Benchmark Capital team, was losing his faith. He was running out of arguments to support Adam. The board wanted to take the company public, which meant that the actions of Adam Neumann would be scrutinized.
Adam and Rebekah’s kids were falling behind in their studies. In “WeCrashed” Episode 6, we see the school administration had called them to inform them about it. Instead of looking into the matter, they started questioning the traditional methods deployed by the school, which, according to them, had become obsolete. They told the principal how they were teaching their kids about conscious entrepreneurship. The principal realizes that there is no point arguing with them and politely tells them that, in her opinion, they were not the right school for their daughter. Adam and Rebekah leave, feeling disrespected and angry. That’s when Rebekah comes up with another idea. She wanted to open a school where the teaching curriculum would be revolutionized so as to cater to the growth and holistic development of the children. She named the initiative “WeGrow.”
What Did Cameron Lautner Want To Do? What Did Cameron Lautner Want To Discuss With Adam Neumann?
Cameron Lautner, who was a partner at Benchmark Capital, realizes that there is no point in beating around the bush. He wanted to put an end to the erratic decision-making of Adam Neumann. In the 6th episode of “WeCrashed” we see him making his base inside the WeWork office as he starts working from there itself. He goes through all the documents and confronts Adam. He tells him that once WeWork went public, it could not invest in a surfing company just because Adam liked to surf and wanted to make connections in the community. Furthermore, he tells Adam that he has to stop making decisions based on his whims and fancies.
Though Adam is agitated by Cameron’s presence in his office space, he realizes that the man has a point. Cameron tells Adam that Rebekah cannot make a random decision about opening schools just because she didn’t approve of the curriculum of the school in which her daughter was studying. Adam, on the other hand, didn’t want to go public with his company.
The core business of WeWork i.e. shared workspaces was losing astronomical amounts of money, but Adam was adamant about not listening to Cameron. He wanted freedom, and was told by Rebekah to manifest the same.
What Was Project Fortitude? Did Masa Buy Out The Other Investors?
Adam had only one way left to get back his freedom. Masa was his wild card. He knew that if Masa invested in the expansion that he and Rebekah were planning to do, then he wouldn’t need the assistance of Benchmark Capital. He met with Masa and convinced him to buy out the other investors, which would, in turn, give Adam complete authority. But the catch was that Masa wanted control of the company after that. Adam was adamant that he didn’t want to lose control. This whole negotiation for expansion with Masa was called “Project Fortitude.”
Adam was able to build the second most valuable company in America, but what he didn’t disclose to Masa was that, though his revenue doubled to 1.8 billion dollars, it was against a loss of 1.9 billion. There were claims floating in the market that WeWork would never be profitable. In “WeCrashed” Episode 6, snippets of information come to light that captivated Masa’s attention. His advisors were against him buying out the other investors. For the very first time, Masa was dubious about the future of WeWork. At the same time, Adam was insisting on having control of the company, which worsened the perception that Masa was slowly developing.
Another matter of concern for Masa was that the terms and conditions prohibited him from investing in other real estate ventures. There was pressure on his share price, so Masa once again sent the revised terms to Adam. Adam was of the opinion that Masa liked his crazy attitude, and if he gave in to Masa’s terms, then he would be hampering the image he had built in front of him. This is where Adam faltered, as he was unaware of the reluctance that was slowly growing inside Masa’s head. Adam pushed back again, and Masa told Adam to meet a person named Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, who was the head of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund. Abu Dhabi was not going to let Softbank invest any more money in WeWork. So Adam now had to wave his magic wand and get Mubarak on his side.
Adam wanted to be free and autonomous, but his own unprofessional attitude became a barrier for him. He reached 45 mins late for the meeting with Al Mubarak. He knew that he had goofed up and would have to pay a huge price for it. He calls his assistant and tells him to accept the terms that Massa was proposing, just to keep him on board. But Masa had made up his mind. He called Adam and told him that he was not going to invest in Project Fortitude.
It was the first time the magician didn’t know how to come out of the grave situation. He had acted unprofessionally and paid no heed to the advice given to him, and was now standing in a swamp with no idea how to get out of it. He had hurt Miguel more than once. He was a partner but was always treated like a subordinate. He felt bad when he disrespected him in front of the board. He didn’t say anything, but he got to know what Adam thought about him, and it was quite disheartening for him. Even Rebekah wasn’t happy with Adam’s behavior.
In the last scene of “WeCrashed,” episode 6, we see Adam break down for the very first time. He lies on Rebekah’s lap, stripped of his magical powers and devoid of any supporter who would take his side willingly.