After books, FT reports, podcasts and endless profile features, WeWork has now hit Hollywood via Apple TV’s latest series: WeCrashed.
First off: what an inspired choice to just let a fabulous unicorn walk through the offices during the opening credits.
It is Executive Produced by the two lead actors Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway, who also stars as former WeWork’s Adam Neumann’s wife Rebekah. There is a clear and fresh narrative from a woman’s perspective throughout the Apple TV series so far – a very different take to the media stories that have been fed to the property industry at large:
Adam Neumann comes across as a hapless serial entrepreneur and it’s his steely new girlfriend and wife-to-be that injects him with the necessary chutzpah to survive in New York’s cut-throat real estate business. She helps him discover his purpose: to adapt his nostalgia for his Kabutz community into an ambitious co-working space for creators. Where people can meet, find love, drive their passions, etc, etc…
To add to the buckets of real estate ambition, there is a flavour of Lady Macbeth as his girlfriend leads him towards the city high-life. He is immersed in a privileged set one-degree removed from Gwyneth Paltrow (and wow does she feed into some of Rebekah’s ongoing demons as a wanna-be actress…). The New York City lifestyle is one that evokes an immediate tension: it must be sustained, financed and continued in the name of love.
For entrepreneurs and start-up folk, the investment raising narrative is richer than expected. Adam’s initial hapless approach is infused with a happy-go-lucky and transparent approach to raising capital. He uses his now infamous buckets of charm to get his first co-working community lease off the ground. Before long he is in the top elite of 1% start-ups in the world, based in the oyster of opportunities of New York City. But with $200,000 of real cash in his 1st year (for none-start-up readers, this is a real accomplishment), he is simply mocked and laughed at. A VC-type investor in a top Manhattan restaurant muses: “I think I pay my PA that amount of money”.
The ego-centric, male-dominated, kill-or-be-eaten mentality in New York real estate starts to drive, convert and darken the protagonists. If Twitter is anything to go by, this is already surprising some real estate professionals who thought they knew the story inside out. #SomethingForTheWeekend.