The Cautionary Tale of Adam Neumann and WeWork

The Cautionary Tale of Adam Neumann and WeWork

The New York Times-Books·2020-10-23 09:00

BILLION DOLLAR LOSER The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork By Reeves Wiedeman

Who doesn’t love to see a tycoon ruined? Who doesn’t love the tale of a proud titan laid low by his own flaws and by the gods, or by their current equivalent, the markets? Our culture is rich with such toppled plutocrats. The puffed-up man-child Charles Foster Kane, a fictional, cinematic version of the grandiose publisher William Randolph Hearst. The shifty insider trader Ivan Boesky and dazzling junk-bond promoter Michael Milken, Reagan-era Wall Street. And, more recently, Elizabeth Holmes, whose Silicon Valley wonder company, Theranos, promised to transform medicine with simple yet supremely telling blood tests that turned out to be bunk. If Americans worship money and success, as there is abiding evidence that we do, we are also enthralled by bankruptcy and failure, particularly when the wipeouts seem well deserved, and the gains that preceded them less so. In America, where we moralize our money and monetize our morals, fat cats who go bust tend to be viewed as cautionary figures, singular exemplars of malfeasance, not routine casualties of the fickle system that exalted them in the first place.

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