< /p> © WeWork/Presse-citron
This is the story of a startup like thousands of others that exist today. The story of a man motivated by delusions of grandeur, who thought he would revolutionize the business world with a simple idea.
Adam Neumann, since that's his name, had the idea of renting huge premises in the city center, converting them into comfortable working centers to sublet them while pocketing a comfortable capital gain. His target? Self-employed workers, business creators or newly hatched start-ups.
Problem: like many young visionaries, Adam Neumann is broke. To found WeWork, he had to find funds, a lot of funds. Luckily, he was born at the right time: his chat is almost hypnotic and the business angels have accumulated so many billions that they no longer know what to do with them.
So they distribute the tickets, because after all “this Neumann is damn charismatic”. And then, on paper, his idea is pretty good. In fact no, not so much…
The era of gurus
This thought pattern is that of an entire economic model born in the 2000s. That of & #8220;startup nation“. At best, these are businesses based on an idea, a man or a woman. And at worst, they are built on well-disguised emptiness with a seductive presentation.
WeWork is the symbol of the era of gurus, with undeniable charisma but questionable vision. Welcome to the famous 2.0 economy where we inject billions into a vision, an idea or sometimes even a vague promise.
The WeCrashed seriesperfectly illustrates this madness to which some investors in need of thrills cling. They play with the future of entrepreneurs as one would when going to buy a Euromillions ticket on a Friday evening: almost without thinking about it. WeWork is a “startup fueled by the pixie dust of Silicon Valley” headlined the Wall Street Journal in 2019, the year of WeWork's almost first bankruptcy.
WeWork is the second unicorn (startupvalued at more than a billion dollars) in American history and the perfect symbol of the business model on drip. By caricaturing a little, its genesis and its tragic destiny can be summed up in a dialogue between two friends.
On the one hand Adam Neumann, the charismatic entrepreneur who became a master in the ;the art of making doubtful concepts credible. And on the other Tom, business-manso rich that he no longer knows what to do with his dollars.
– Hey hi Tom! I have a genius idea but I don't have any money, will you give me some? You'll see I'm going to make you an even richer man!
– Ok Adam, here's 100 million dollars and God bless you!
A few months later:
– Hey hi Tom! My idea takes a little time to take hold but I believe in it. In fact, I see too small. To succeed, I have to think big.
– Yeah Adam, I like your way of thinking! That's $10 billion. Are you okay?
A few months pass:
– Hey hi Adam!
– Yo Tom wassup? Have you seen the coworking spaces? They're crazy, aren't they? The markets value us at $47 billion. I told you I would make you an even richer man. Come on, let's enter the Stock Exchange [the American stock exchange]!
And what was supposed to happen happened:
– Hey Tom! Let's go to the Stock Exchange then?
– What the fuck Adam, what the hell did you do with the money? It's bankruptcy!!!
We spare you the various rescue attempts, such as the billions of dollars injected by the Japanese SoftBank or again the incredible ideas of Adam Neumann and his wife which ultimately only precipitated the fall.
WeWork is the story of an entrepreneur with a good idea, impressive charisma and an oversized ego. By mixing all this together, he made wealthy investors believe that she was revolutionary and used the billions to lead the lifestyle of a rockstar that he was. not.
This egotrip will have endangered a company, ruined investors and above all shattered the lives of thousands of employees who found themselves unemployed. The fall of WeWork is that of its founder whose “ ambitions were as ridiculous as his personality” wrote The Guardian.
This path is followed by a good number of startups led by entrepreneurs with overly ambitious ambitions and a vision blurred by ego. It is paved by naive investors and sometimes blinded by the glow of easy money. Unfortunately, Adam Neumann is not the last to follow him…