WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn Movie Review
From miracle success to spectacular business failure, WeWork’s rise and fall is the kind of cautionary tale that will serve as a feeder for university case studies for decades to come. Proof that charisma, vision, and salesmanship can take you extraordinarily far--but only so far--the new documentary WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn is an enthralling examination of the firm’s epic downfall, though if you’re familiar with the organization and its founder Adam Neumann it may just be a repeat of what you already know.
Directed by Jed Rothstein, WeWork utilizes interviews with former employees, clients, journalists, and investors--coupled with extensive second-hand footage of Neumann himself--to bring to life what made the company so popular to both workers and venture capitalists, and the cultural (and financial) failures that led to its explosion. Entertaining from start to finish, while equally informative, Rothstein’s detailed work seems more complete and focused than some other business-oriented documentaries. It of course helps that WeWork’s downfall was relatively straightforward--the financials revealed during its pre-IPO phase were staggeringly awful--but WeWork nonetheless lays out the various elements at play.
Neumann’s persona takes center stage, and for good reason. It would have been great had Rothstein dug a little deeper into the financial side of the organization, most notably why or how WeWork thought that it would be able to pull off a successful IPO with the numbers it had. The blame is placed solely on Neumann’s shoulders, but gaining more insight into the dynamics at play leading up to the decision to go public would have been helpful.
WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn doesn’t delve deeper than what has already been reported, but it’s a concise, engaging, and undeniably satisfying documentary.
This movie was reviewed as part of coverage for the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.