In 2021, New York Times financial reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin interviewed former WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann. It was his first public interview since Neumann was ousted as CEO in 2019. In the interview, Sorkin mentions to Neumann that Jared Leto is playing him in an upcoming TV drama and asks Neumann if he plans to. look.
Neumann replies, “He told me not to.”
Actor Jared Leto who plays Adam Neumann in the new Apple TV+ show, We crashed, advised the disgraced CEO not to watch the impending series. After watching the 8-episode series of We crashed and seeing the life of Adam and his company WeWork soar to great heights and quickly fall apart as quickly as it began – it’s understandable why Leto chose to tell Neumann not to see this story unfold on the small screen. Based on the Wondery podcast of the same name, We crashed explores the tragic downfall of the $47 billion disaster that was WeWork. WeWork is a company that provides shared workspaces for young entrepreneurs and tech startups to prepare to become the next Facebook or Google. Adam’s story has all the makings of an episodic series, and his story is not only remarkable but nearly impossible to believe.
Jared Leto gives an impeccable performance as a billionaire businessman. Leto, very similar in appearance to Adam, wearing brown contact lenses and delivering an impressive Israeli accent, makes a much better portrayal of an actual entrepreneur than playing Paolo Gucci, who looked like Luigi from the Super Mario game franchise, in Gucci House. Leto, who serves as an executive producer on this series, most likely reached out to Adam for feedback and perspective on the character. Neumann’s wife, Rebekah Neumann, played by Anne Hathaway, is another performance that nails the real persona of a hard-to-read woman. Hathaway is also an executive producer on the film. Although there is no record of the two interacting prior to production, Hathaway captures the essence of Neumann’s wife who worked as the company’s Chief Brand Officer during her tenure there.
Rebekah, who is also Gwyneth Paltrow’s cousin, has one of the deepest character development arcs in the series. Showrunner and writer Lee Eisenberg (Office) peels back the layers of Hathaway’s character, Rebekah, like an onion, and we find a woman who has no sense of self or identity. Not only does she live in her husband’s shadow, but in previous episodes, before WeWork started, she tried to live in the shadow of her famous cousin Gwyneth. The series shows flashbacks to Rebekah’s childhood, her relationship with her father Robert Paltrow (Peter Jacobson), as well as her traumatic breakup with her college boyfriend. These events slowly shape the woman Rebekah has become, and We crashed does a great job of creating for the viewer to make sense of his personality.
More importantly, it makes sense for Rebekah to connect with a man filled with so much vanity and arrogance. The two together create this toxic hubris, cultivating the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” syndrome. We’ve seen this malformation of entrepreneurship play out before in stories about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and bogus German heiress Anna Delvey. Both women have also had their stories featured on major streaming platforms. However, what makes Adam Neumann’s story significant is that he was never held accountable for his mismanagement of WeWork which resulted in layoffs of more than 20% of its workforce and job options. purchase of shares promised to low wages which were never received. Instead, Adam left WeWork, a billionaire.
We crashed in its 8 episodes unpacks much of what happens to the Neumann family. The series also introduced us to co-founder Miguel McKelvey, a sort of “cheerleader” of Adam. He is described more as a lapdog than a true co-founder. Showing no autonomy over executive decisions and Adam doing a series of real estate transactions behind his back. Also, in one scene, Adam puts Miguel in charge of creating a 17-page game within 24 hours after making a lofty promise to a potential investor. We learn that it is Adam’s MO, that his subordinates (including his peers in executive leadership) carry the load of the company while he enjoys the fruits of their labor. Adam recklessly spends his $4.4 billion investment in Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son (Kim Eui Sung) in Private Aircraft, another start-up that makes wave pools, and invests in WeGrow, the education arm children of WeWork led by his wife Rebekah.
Masayoshi Son, who is also an integral part of Adam’s story, asks the entrepreneur a simple question. “Who wins the fight, the fool or the smart man?” When Adam says “crazy,” it’s that response that seals the deal of their business partnership. Son, who prefers to invest based on instinct rather than company fundamentals, is obsessed with rapid growth and expansion. The “fomo” (fear of missing something) turns out to be his Achilles heel during his journey with WeWork.