Cover Image: The Cult of We

The Cult of We

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Member Reviews

I would struggle to be able to review this book due to issues with the file/download. The issues stopped the flow of the book. The issues are:
- Missing words in the middle of sentences
- Stop/start sentences on different lines
- No clear definition of chapters. 

Not sure if it was a file/download issue but there were lots of gaps and stops/starts which really ruined the flow.
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A really interesting and insightful look into the rise and fall of WeWork, with echoes of Bad Blood throughout.
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Oh boy! The Cult of We tells a mind-boggling story. There is a sharp, almost sarcastic edge to some of the writing that reminded me of the cutting interludes in The Big Short but Brown and Farrell, for the most part, treat all the characters involved in the WeWork debacle with compassion. They genuinely want to understand why Adam Neumann did what he did and how so many people fell under his spell.
Adam comes across as mercurial. Almost absurdly charismatic and incredibly driven with unequalled skills as a salesperson and dealmaker. Brown and Farrell make clear a key aspect of his personality was his pathological need to push for more. It is a double-edged sword that drives him to great success and blinds him to the risks that he is exposing himself and those around him with his actions. There should have been adults in the room to tell him no. This is not an entirely sympathetic portrayal. Adam’s greed, cruelty and inability to take ownership for his mistakes speak for themselves.

It is fascinating to read how SO many people in the fields of finance, property, and technology fell under WeWork’s spell. Brown and Farrell smartly contrast the almost willful blindness of bankers, investors, celebrities, and employees to that of Regus owner’s clear-sighted understanding of WeWork’s business model.

Taking place over so many years and with many people making important decisions, this might have been incomprehensible and difficult to follow. This, however, is quality writing that cuts through a complicated maze of personalities and complex financial products, presenting the story of what happened in a way even a dolt like me could understand. This is a book filled with moments that I found astounding. The sums of money involved are almost unbelievable. This is a book about delusions both on a small and grand scale. It works both as a character study and as a warning that WE are all vulnerable to the defects of people like Neumann and Elizabeth Holmes because greedy humans believe the lies they want to hear.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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The Cult of We :WeWork and the Great Start-Up Delusion is an eye opening and interesting look at start ups. It was a fascinating read that makes you think about how companies like We Work operate.
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A brilliant and fascinating look into the rise and fall of the start-up, WeWork, and makes a brilliant read to the companion series. 

Great read for fans of Bad Blood.
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Honestly, I wasn’t aware of WeWork at all before reading this book.  It was an eyeopener for sure! 

A very informative book which discusses the rise and fall of the company. Very well written book and helped inform the uninformed 😉
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The writing of this book is neither standout, nor bad. Unfortunately the most memorable thing for me was the whole "We" concept and how easily the founder made money. Honest hard-working people all over the world cannot afford their own home and struggle to make ends meet. Their quality of life is poor, they have to use food banks and take on multiple jobs just to try and make it to the next payday. Whereas this snake, took millions from investors who were more than willing to throw their chequebooks at an empty vision with a questionable front man. 
As this is an account of the We concept that has left me so angry, I guess it is well written and compiled but the overwhelming anger has me forgetting the details of the book. I am glad that this scandal has been told as I personally had never heard of it being a non-US resident but this is something that should never happen again, but feels like it will, time and time again while the everyday person struggles on. 
Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Read this book with my mouth open. It was a bit like the Emperors new clothes. How no one had the sense to see what the business concept was is fascinating. Add to the mix a megalomaniac founder who believes his own hype and a wife that believes it too and you have a recipe for disaster. The background in the book is really well researched and the story of the demise of We Works  is well written. It reminds me of Bad Blood the story of Theranos and you wonder when investors will have the common sense to ask the right questions. Adam Neumann and his wife ended up with millions of dollars invested by some of the worlds largest investors who wanted to be part of the dot com boom unfortunately We Works wasn't a dot com business.
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Excellent book - well written with a strong mix of compelling story and insightful financial background to different aspects of the WeWork. tale

It's like a rollercoaster, with highlights of ANs greed, RNs "hippy dippy" mindset and Masa's philosophy of flooding startups with a tsunami of funding in the name of growth - everyone's behaviours seems to defy economic and financial sense

The bad news - AN got away with it and came out filthy rich - an apalling example of personal financial success resulting from greed and commercial failure; lots of hardworking people lost their jobs, and finally, an enormous loss of investor value - not victimless, as these investments should have resulted in returns that ultimately improved people's lives

The irony - at its core I wonder whether WeWork could have been profitabel if manged well, and not driven to grow uncontrollably with no eye to the bottom line - whioch it only did because of ANs greed and using growth as the key financial metric, rather than profitability

I look forward to the book on Uber, if there is one!
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The Cult of We is a very readable account of the rise and fall of WeWork – well researched and full of detail, but with the pace of a thriller. It has the classic narrative arc of all these stories – a charismatic leader, a group of credulous investors who were looking for the next big thing and were eager to be convinced, a failure to ask even basic questions about finance and governance.

It highlights the absurdity of the claims of what was basically a real estate company that it was a tech startup revolutionising the world of work, and the way that Adam Neumann and his wife Rebekah talked about the importance of ‘We’ while enriching themselves and using company resources to pursue their pet projects.

It makes you wonder why no one ever learns the lesson of earlier bubbles, why they go on falling for the same story, but perhaps the enablers of people like Neumann don’t. Perhaps they know it’s an illusion but hope to make money and get out before it all comes crashing down, leaving someone else to pay the price. And many of them did.
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The Cult of We, the tale of the ‘great startup delusion’ that engulfed the serviced office corporation WeWork, is a thriller without thrills, at least of the happy kind. That sounds more critical than I mean, so let’s explain. Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell serve up a meticulously-researched account of how WeWork came to be overvalued, until it wasn’t. It isn’t that the details of the excess of Adam Neumann’s family, entourage and business partners aren’t shocking. It’s more that the whole thing is utterly exhausting. The greed and the waste is all-consuming, and the consumption is extreme and joyless. I read this book around the time that the UK Johnson government was seeking to rewrite the system of parliamentary scrutiny seemingly to clear a Johnson ally, Owen Paterson, from facing censure. This manoeuvre led to outrage, Paterson’s resignation and the subsequent loss of his seat, historically safe for the Conservatives. The parallels between Neumann and Johnson’s sense of entitlement seemed obvious. Both men have had their wings clipped but the public square seems coarser and baser for the events.
WeWork under Neumann was a car crash waiting to happen. The company provided a slightly fresher take on the serviced office concept. Somehow, it convinced itself and tech financiers that it had skipped sectors and deserved to be thought of as a tech disruptor. Its leadership - specifically, Neumann - managed to distort governance models and to tell a story that too many people wanted to believe. He got all kinds of funding based on a ridiculous valuation of the company. Time and again, Brown and Farrell make statements like: ‘The rise and fall of WeWork was enabled by a collision of forces: a man characterised by charisma, unbridled optimism, and astute salesmanship met an entire financial system primed to fall under his spell [with] a frothy venture capital sector…obsessed with the search for eccentric and visionary founders’.
Brown and Farrell don’t pull any punches when it comes to the behaviour of both Adam and Rebekah Neumann: Rebekah Neumann is portrayed as a destructive and parasitic influence more concerned with her own status and crazy ideas. Adam Neumann sabotages a huge deal with SoftBank and then wrecks the IPO: in both cases it’s because he’s more interested in lodging outrageous personal demands than in the wellbeing of the company he’s trousering unthinkable sums for leading.
But by the end the outrage and the greed and the decadence are among the less interesting details. Personally I would have liked to have understood more about the web that Adam Neumann spun. We see that he was a man who made knee-jerk strategic decisions when under the influence of drink or drugs, that his leadership style was more attuned to a court than a well-run business, that there was hypocrisy galore: the culture of WeWork seems not dissimilar at times to Orwell’s eponymous Animal Farm - the minions are expected to live various values (such as pescatarianism) that the special people would scoff at. But there are moments when Neumann is described as having a huge work ethic and perhaps attention to detail. Could better governance have forced WeWork into a more sustainable direction?
And we must return to the title of the book: WeWork was a cult. But Neumann was egged on by men like Masayoshi Son at SoftBank, and by others, who seem to be drawn to cults. If your founder isn’t a charismatic disruptor and visionary, your company may not get the funding it needs. Brown and Farrell are quite clear that Son’s predilection for a certain kind of chief executive causes him to make bad investment calls. I can’t really take comfort that the system kind-of worked because the discipline of the IPO process caused Neumann’s tall tales to be questioned properly. Money was wasted, value was destroyed, lives were blighted because the system favours ‘brash, even arrogant [men] with an extraordinarily bold vision’. Brown and Farrell are clearly appalled that the financial community did so little to reflect on the lessons of the WeWork fiasco. The next Adam Neumann is likely to be courted just the same way.
Let’s not be too wide-eyed here. Hucksters hustle, spinners spin, companies get formed or go bust every day. But the sums involved get bigger and bigger. The Cult of We, well-written and detailed as it is, is so tiring. I think the next business biography I read may have to be focused on vigilance, probity and healthy scepticism.
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"Like a tall flute of champagne, modern capitalism has long been full of bubbles that rise to the surface and pop... Simply put, bubbles are the result of a herd of people who collectively start paying more for something than its intrinsic value".

The Cult of We is a breakdown of the history of WeWork, but also an analysis of our society and the systems in place that enabled a company deep, deep in the red to continue rising in value. It explains how entrepreneurialism isn't just delivering a good product, but the correct marketing, fortuitous networking and selling a dream instead of numbers and facts. 

This isn't just a nonfiction about a famous company you've probably seen on the corner of the street in the city, but a break down of investment and sales. The book very aptly explained that "if Silicon Valley were a rocket, venture capital would be its fuel" and offered very digestible explanations and in-depth examples about the mechanics behind investing in start ups. Think of it as the most interesting book on basic economics with some drugs and weird spiritualism thrown in for fun.

Adam and Rebecca are fascinating individuals, but I really appreciated the way the author emphasised the cogs of the machine, over the superiority of individuals. Naturally, they couldn't have pulled off such a shocking sale of what was effectively a real estate company as a tech start up without the delusions of grandeur and privilege of wealth,  but equally. their charisma alone wasn't their strength. It was being in the right place, at the right time, and capitalising on an opportunity before someone equally as hungry took it. 

The book offers a fantastic delve into capitalism and the future of venture capital if we continue as we are and if we leave the power of investment in the hands of a few. Money and power is a tool that can corrupt anyone, even those with the purest of intentions. Absolutely marvellous stuff, I thoroughly recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley for the Arc!
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If you’ve ever stopped outside the shiny new office blocks sprung up on Station Road and wondered what WeWork does, this new book is an absolute must-read. A quick answer to the question is ‘spending other people’s money’ – but like all grifts, that’s just the half of it. In 2010, WeWork’s founder Adam Neumann was struggling to sell baby clothes: less than a decade later he was CEO of a $47-billion-dollar company, one of the most highest-valued private businesses on the planet, which provided stylish office space and associated perks to tens of thousands of smaller companies in big cities around the world. Yet behind the parties, the free drinks and chic interiors, on paper, WeWork was an accountant’s nightmare: the business was losing more than $3,000 every minute: $1.6 billion in 2018 alone. When the company imploded in September 2019, bewilderingly evaporating $40 billion of value almost overnight and resulting in the departure of Neumann and his wife Rebekah (chief brand and impact officer) everyone finally realised that one of the most valuable, charismatic and thrilling businesses of recent times wasn’t actually a shimmeringly successful tech giant – it was nothing more than a glorified estate agent – and if those numbers aren’t already making your toes curl, the rest of the stories will do. This book is the result of years of dedicated reporting for The Wall Street Journal, with journalists Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell interviewing hundreds of WeWork employees and stakeholders to discover the answer to a very simple question: how could this happen? While WeWork’s financial downfall was very public, the hidden deals and investments which lay behind the headlines will make your eyebrows shoot for the stratosphere. Employees were left jobless: investors were left with empty pockets, but that CEO? He left rich…
Though no longer headed by the Neumanns, WeWork is still in business (though still experiencing eye-watering financial losses which make you screw up your face at how this end-stage capitalism can possibly be allowed to happen) and if nothing else, reading The Cult Of We will be excellent homework for the two upcoming dramatisations of the Neumann’s tale: one based on this book with Nicholas Braun (Cousin Greg from Succession) starring as Adam, and Apple’s ‘WeCrashed’ with Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto. Make a huge bowl of popcorn to stuff in your jaw-dropped mouth and strap in for this engrossing, rollicking car-crash of a ride through what is – as the authors say in their introduction – a truly vital parable for modern business. 

Featured in Book Club in the october 2021 issue of Cambridge Edition magazine
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Admittedly I didn't know alot about WeWork before I started this book but once I had finished it I went down a WeWork rabbit hole!

This book is so informative. It accurately discusses the rise & ultimate collapse of this company in a manner that makes it understandable for someone without business knowledge.

The Cult of We is really well written and really helped demystify the the mysteries of WeWork.

I gave it 5 stars for it's informative & well researched writing⭐

Thank you to the authors, Harper Collins & NetGalley for an eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book could be classified as XXI snake oil story. Because it's the story of the raise and fall of a start up but it's also a clever and well explained story of what is happening in the world of start ups and venture capitals.
The story of We is crazy, full of hubris and inflated ego. The explanations about the financial parts are clear and made me learn something new.
An excellent and gripping book.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I'd actually never heard of WeWork or Adam Neumann but the synopsis sounded like fiction and as I read the book it couldn't believe that it has really happened. Neumann's charisma and ability to charm investors must have been great as reading the facts as they were described it sounded like another Theranos scandal with lots of style but no substance. This book was incredibly interesting and although there were a lot of facts it never felt dry or slow; I was thoroughly engaged throughout the whole novel and would recommend to everyone. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review
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Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell’s The Cult of We is, as the subtitle suggests an examination of start up culture viewed through the prism of the rise (and fall) of We Work. In case you’ve missed my previous post or in fact the whole We Work saga, We Work was set up by Adam Neumann as reimagining the work space. It was subletting office space to smaller companies – like other companies had done before – but managing to make it sound like something new and revolutionary and get it classed alongside tech startups with much lower price overheads. The company started to implode when it tried to launch its IPO – which it needed to raise more money to keep the lights on – but Neumann walked away with much of his fortune intact.

I’ve already written about Reeves Wiedeman’s Billion Dollar Loser, which also covers Neumann and We Work and yet I still got new perspectives from this. This answers some of the questions Wiedeman didn’t – partly because it had more time to see what happened, but also takes a bigger look (I think) at how the financing of these sorts of companies is done and how made investors went for unicorn start ups that weren’t making profits. It could be recency bias, but my inclination is to say that this is the better choice if you’re only going to read one – you get all the mind boggling stories about the antics of Neumann (extra cleaning on private planes because of the cannabis-fueled partying on board) and his wife Rebekah (including the recipe for Cheezy sprinkle – hint, there is no cheese but there is nutritional yeast) but you also get more detail on the high finance side of things and who was investing in all of this.

Which ever book you read though, the story of We Work probably won’t make you as angry as Bad Blood or Empire of Pain – but that may be because office rental is not as easy to get worked up about as revolutionary blood testing or the opioid epidemic. Or maybe the story of Theranos really is that bonkers. But it’s still definitely worth a read if you like a Big Business explosion story and also if you don’t want to get so angry about the contents you want to throw the book/e-reader across the room!
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Since the start of the pandemic, I've found it really difficult to engage with fiction in the way I had beforehand. The winner in this scenario? Business memoirs tracking the rise (and fall) of tech start ups. Up to now, I've mostly focused on the social media industry (because it's of personal interest for my work and familiar to me), but I've always been curious about WeWork, having heard stories in the press, so this sounded like a fascinating read!! 

Thankfully, it didn't disappoint and added to the list of books I have managed to enjoy throughout the course of the pandemic even when fiction has been more of a struggle. The book was, perhaps, a little too long and therefore felt a bit arduous at times, but it is a comprehensive, engaging look at what has really happened in the world of We, and makes this a book I would recommend to anyone who has enjoyed other books of this sort!
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This was quite a long book of Adams fortune and almost detailed every deal and Loan he had through career , it showed his eitos for people, work and money . His skill in persuading anyone to lent him money continues ly.
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The Cult of We by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell is a very detailed account of the rise and fall of WeWork and how it was tied to its "visionary," Adam Neumann. I was interested in this book because I had previously listened to the two episodes of Behind the Bastards on Neumann ([Part 1]( [Part 2]( and wanted more detailed content. This is a deep dive into Neumann and his effect on WeWork, so if you don't want all the nitty gritty on the investments by SoftBank and Neumann's relationship with the Saudi Royal family, just listen to the podcast episodes.

The underlying theme of this book, as well as other books about the tech industry and adjacent businesses, is that the lie of meritocracy allows unhinged maniacs to accrue wealth and power on a sand foundation of "innovation." In that way, it is extremely depressing, especially when discussions on maternity leave and other necessary accommodations for working people – Neumann has called maternity leave "vacation" on multiple occasions and regularly demoted women after coming back from leave.

The details of the day-to-day atmosphere at WeWork seem to me almost too bananas to be true:

> A small subset of its staff, though, were wary. One former manager recalled being told to "drink the Kool-Aid," in a positive way. He was confused: Did these millennials not know about the 1970s cult and ensuing mass suicide that had inspired the term?

At this point, I would like to state that I, a millennial, am aware of the Peoples' Temple, Jim Jones, and the poisoned Flavor Aid (not Kool-Aid).

This book has the feel of a soap opera but is also deeply maddening. The bananas behavior of Adam Neumann is particularly maddening and I had to take breaks while reading. It's pretty clear that someone like Neumann should never have had this much influence in the first place – he suggested himself as the ideal candidate for the first president of the world – and that his reign at the head of WeWork did a lot of damage to a lot of people.
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