- Michael Kovac/Getty Images for WeWork
- WeWork’s employees were swept up by its cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann’s wild ambitions and enthralled by his startup’s cool culture and lavish perks, The New Yorker reported this week.
- “In retrospect, there’s no way this could have worked,” a WeWork software engineer told the magazine. “People were high … It seems insane now, but at the time it made so much sense.”
- WeWork last year flew 8,000 employees to a company retreat near London where Lorde performed and Deepak Chopra led a meditation, and Neumann once floated the idea of a WeWork on water called WeSail, The New Yorker reported.
- Read more of Business Insider’s WeWork coverage here.
WeWork’s employees were swept up by its cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann’s wild ambitions and enthralled by his company’s cool culture and lavish perks, but they grew concerned as red flags mounted, The New Yorker reported this week.
“In retrospect, there’s no way this could have worked,” a WeWork software engineer told the magazine. “People were high … It seems insane now, but at the time it made so much sense.”
The shared-workspace startup plowed money into growing its business without setting realistic targets, the report said.
“It was chaos,” a WeWork architectural designer told The New Yorker. Trying to organize the large teams “was like herding cats,” she said, adding that WeWork’s sales staff members “were always promising insane things like ‘We’ll get it done by October!’ And it’s July.”
WeWork also splashed its cash on flying 8,000 employees to a company retreat near London last summer where Lorde performed and Deepak Chopra led a meditation, The New Yorker reported. The event was a warning sign for some employees.
“OK, this is $2,500 a head just for the flights,” a WeWork designer told the magazine, adding that “from a business perspective, there were some red flags there.”
WeWork staff members, increasingly worried about their employer’s scattershot approach and reckless spending, hoped there were adults pulling the strings.
“There was always this assumption that, behind Adam, there was someone intelligent – a group of people – who were watching and making the practical, financial decisions,” a WeWork development worker told the magazine. “That someone was taking care of it.”
But those hopes were dashed at another WeWork gathering in Los Angeles in January – the figure skater Adam Rippon and the actor Jaden Smith made appearances – where Neumann floated ideas for a WeWork on water called WeSail and for a WeBank.
“That was when it hit me,” the development worker told The New Yorker. “There wasn’t anyone else running the company. It was just Adam and his wife.”
WeWork, which secured a private valuation of $47 billion in January, recently scrapped its plans for an initial public offering after investors attacked its business model, mushrooming losses, and governance, as well as Neumann’s controversial behavior.
Running short of cash, WeWork agreed to a $9.5 billion rescue deal with SoftBank last month. The Japanese conglomerate disclosed this week that it slashed its valuation of WeWork by more than 80%, to below $5 billion, last quarter.