I Read It So You Don’t Have To

I Read It So You Don’t Have To: ‘The Cult of We’

Two reporters tell the inside story of WeWork’s dramatic rise and implosion

Stephen Moore
Published in
6 min readAug 23, 2021

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I Read It So You Don’t Have To is a series that gives you the TL;DR on a business book you want to read — but don’t have time to.

What did I read?

The Cult of We: WeWork and the Great Start-Up Delusion by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell.

So who are Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell?

Eliot Brown is a journalist who has covered start-ups and venture capital for The Wall Street Journal since 2010. Maureen Farrell is also a reporter for the Journal, whose work has received the Newswomen’s Club of New York’s Nellie Bly Award.

Give me the 30-second sell.

The Cult of We opens the lid on the rapid rise and even more rapid downfall of WeWork, the “we’re not a real estate” company that sold itself as a tech company to capitalize on the investor rush to throw money at the next big thing in Silicon Valley. At one point valued as high as $47 billion — while losing $3,000 a minute — WeWork eventually stumbled to an IPO, which had to be canceled, after which the floodgates opened, and the company was left scrambling to stay afloat.

Rather than only document the events — of which the authors do a stellar job — Brown and Farrell try to answer the burning questions left after the facade came down. Why did these seemingly smart investors fall for the hype? Why were so many blind to the risks? And despite being ousted, how did CEO Adam Neumann walk away richer than most can only dream of? Based on interviews with over 300 individuals, including former and current employees, this is the definitive book on what really happened at WeWork.

Any particularly juicy bits?

WeWork’s entire saga is a juicy story, but many moments perfectly represent Neumann’s unwavering self-confidence, poor business practices within the company, and the greed of investors who were willing to ignore problems with the business as long as the value of their investment kept going up.

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