Having watched almost every episode of Shark Tank, I know that when someone describes themselves as a “serial entrepreneur” it’s a red flag. It usually means that they flit from idea to idea, never truly following through on anything. I also know from watching that show that valuations are made up of numbers. There is no universal formula on how to calculate a valuation, so even a company that is losing millions a week, like WeWork was when it was a unicorn (a private company valued at $1 billion or more) means nothing. However, with all this information, it is still interesting to see the quick uprise and even faster downfall that plays out in WeCrashed, based on the Wondery podcast of the same name.
Jared Leto plays Adam Neumann, a self-described serial entrepreneur who is peddling his various business ventures over New York City, including baby clothes with knee pads and collapsable women’s heels. Adam grew up in a kibbutz in Israel, so the lack of community in the city, like not knowing your neighbors, is confusing to him. After proposing his idea for community living in his business class, which turns most of the students off, his professor said he either be a billionaire or end up in jail. However, his presentation is appealing to Miguel McKelvey, who grew up in a commune with five moms. They team up to create WeWork, a place that they describe not only as a business but a lifestyle.
At the same time, Adam meets Rebecca, a cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow. A serial spiritual seeker, Rebecca jumps from idea to idea, from working to Wall Street, to trying to be an actress, to becoming a yoga instructor. She says Adam is full of shit because he isn’t doing something he is passionate about. “Do what you love” she says. According to her, its the secret to life.
Together, they put everything they have into WeWork, with Adam as the fearless leader who isn’t above grimey moves like getting a landlord drunk to secure a lease for a building. Rebecca is truly the neck of the business to Adam’s head, whatever she says behind the scenes goes. WeWork is also the place where she can try her random ideas, like offering a community theatre center where of course she’s the star of the play. Miguel is the awkward third wheel. His opinion doesn’t seem to be valued even though he’s a co-founder.
Jared Leto is a very convincing Adam. Beyond the prosthetics that transformed him, his larger-than-life mannerisms and accent are on point. Anne Hathaway’s Rebecca is a mix of two characters she has previously played, she’s like her Princess Diaries character Mia, and insane to the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. In hindsight, they are clearly full of gas but doing the 2010s the idea of revolution, startups, and the reignition of the American Dream blinded many people.
Of all the shows based on startups that have come up as of late, WeCrashed is one of the strongest and most engaging. The show has an underlying theme of a heist, with Adam and Rebecca trying to get as much wealth as possible before people through their facade, compared to other shows which tend to give off “big bro energy.” While you won’t root for them, there is underlying humor of someone pulling the wool over someone’s eyes for billions of dollars.
WeCrashed is now streaming on Apple TV+, with new episodes of Friday.