(CBS Local)– WeWork office spaces can be seen throughout New York City and it wasn’t that long ago that the company was valued at $47 billion. After a failed I.P.O. in 2019, the commercial real estate company recently announced that it was going public with a SPAC and is now valued at $7 billion.
A new Hulu documentary from director Jed Rothstein called “WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn” details the rise of the company, the many layers of its founder and former CEO Adam Neumann and what WeWork will look like in a post-pandemic world. Rothstein recently spoke to CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about all of these things.READ MORE: Tri-State Area Reports Steady Progress In COVID Vaccination Effort As Eligibility Expands
“This story was always something I was interested in,” said Rothstein. “I followed it when it was in the news in late 2019 and when we started making it, it was really the beginning of the pandemic. It was almost like a fable from the time before. This fable from another land when you could still talk about making billions of dollars by bringing people together in offices and having endless parties. In a strange way, it was like going to another galaxy to make this story. I’m a New Yorker and I’ve lived through all of this. I look back on it and think about the excitement and energy that someone like Adam Neumann was trying to harness.”
Neumann came to New York from Israel and started several other business ventures before striking gold with WeWork. As Rothstein details in his documentary, Neumann and his wife Rebekah wanted to make WeWork much more than just a real estate company.READ MORE: Driver Arrested After Car Slams Into Scaffolding On East Side
“Adam comes in this great tradition of people coming to New York and hustling,” said Rothstein. “That’s the part of his story that draws a lot of people in. A lot of people can relate to it. When it later turns bad, you also understand that there is this sort of dark side of the hustle in New York. Part of what I found with Adam is that by creating WeWork, he was in a sense creating this community out of the global nomad world that gave him a home. The entire spirit of WeWork grew out of Adam’s own desire to build a community. He ended up choosing the me over the we.”
Rothstein believes WeWork thrived in its early days because it addressed a need for young people who were starting businesses or were working in small companies and needed office spaces and connectivity with others. The documentary features interviews with people who were a part of WeWork or had an apartment in WeLive and the director wanted to use these folks to show the individuals that were impacted when Neumann and WeWork failed to go public in 2019 and then saw Neumann resign as CEO and walk away with tens of millions of dollars.MORE NEWS: NYPD Enlists Volunteers For Citywide Graffiti Cleanup Initiative
“People who participated in it felt like they were changing the world,” said Rothstein. “They were changing the way people worked and lived. There was another film that came out recently that said nobody ever joins a cult. You join something because you think it’s good and then it kind of becomes this other thing. With WeWork, that’s very true. You can look at it one way and it looks like a fantastic thing to join up with and and you can look at it another way and it looks like something else.”