... indefatigable, scrupulous ... like the most engrossing nonfiction stories, has a plot indeed, one that only reality could contrive. To fully appreciate its twists and turns, the reader should understand, or be willing to study on the fly, the customs, manners and vocabulary of contemporary investment banking. The sure reward for this effort is utter horror, unless the reader is herself a banker, in which case profound embarrassment might be more appropriate ... So what is the moral of this cautionary tale? What was Neumann’s mistake? His tragic flaw? Different readers will settle on different charges, but it might not matter. A 10-figure payout proves all of them wrong.
... steady and restrained ... [Wiedeman] could have easily let loose from the beginning with a sensationalist narrative of exploitation and degradation, but he bides his time, allowing his evidence to accrue...This method gives the reader a chance to understand Neumann’s arc ... Throughout it all, Wiedeman is an appropriately understated guide, aware that his subject is so laden with self-regard that it only takes a deadpan clause to convey the absurdity of it all ... would be absorbing enough were it just about one man’s grandiosity, but Wiedeman has a larger argument to make about what Neumann represents.
... propulsive ... Wiedeman writes that it is 'hard to figure out what lesson Adam, or the entrepreneurs of the future, should learn from his rise and fall.' Is it, though? In fact, any future entrepreneur who hopes to get rich fast can draw a straightforward directive from Neumann’s experience: Emulate it. More relevant is what the rest of us should learn.
If you’ve followed the WeWork saga, you’ll already be familiar with a lot of Neumann’s shenanigans, but Wiedeman does a good job demonstrating repeating patterns of hubris, hedonism and bad management ... Some may read this book and balk at such outrageous behavior while others, much like Trump supporters, may see the daring and bravado as something to cheer and even emulate. Wiedeman cites a prominent venture capitalist who says the right response to Neumann, in the end, 'was to recognize his faults while acknowledging the unbelievable thing he had done.'
... [this] new book by journalist Reeves Wiedeman, assembles a definitive chronology of a company doomed not by one bad business strategy—or even Neumann’s outsize ego—but by the rot of a postrecession economy that nurtured a certain flavor of investor-class mania ... In other words, even if WeWork (which now appears to be on its last legs) and other erstwhile unicorns don’t survive the pandemic, their investors and top brass likely will. That’s by design; as economic inequality continues to surge out of control, and climate disaster looms on the horizon, the financial overlords have done all they can to extricate their fates from everyone else’s. Their thirst for innovation is perhaps most disturbing when it conveniently overlaps with a chance to simply leave behind the disasters they’ve had a hand in creating ... For Neumann, 'community'—even imagined on a cosmic scale—was always primarily an opportunity to make money.
By speaking the woozy language of a Silicon Valley world-changer, Neumann put himself in the running for the kind of venture-capital money that typically flows toward businesses with minimal physical assets. This is intriguing because WeWork isn’t a tech company ... Investors ignored the contradiction and gave Neumann a lot of money. People who were usually intelligent became almost delusional in his presence ... it’s a story about a brief collective delusion shared among Neumann and some finance guys, a story whose central question is not how WeWork failed, but how Neumann convinced so many people that it wouldn’t. Wiedeman’s book implies a possible answer: male envy and status obsession. Neumann embodied qualities that his investors wanted but didn’t possess.
... a thrilling page-turner ... Wiedeman meticulously recounts what happened between WeWork’s 2010 launch and disastrous 2019 IPO ... Wiedeman creates a palpable sense of suspense ... What lifts this book to excellence is Wiedeman’s ease at presenting a complex business saga both understandably and entertainingly. Readers will feel like they are in the room with Neumann and his beleaguered colleagues during every twist and turn of this fascinating corporate train wreck.