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Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork

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4.12  ·  Rating details ·  7,268 ratings  ·  661 reviews
The inside story of WeWork and its CEO, Adam Neumann, which tells the remarkable saga of one of the most audacious, and improbable, rises and falls in American business history.

In its earliest days, WeWork promised the impossible: to make the American work place cool. Adam Neumann, an immigrant determined to make his fortune in the United States, landed on the idea of repu
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  7,268 ratings  ·  661 reviews


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George
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have a soft spot for books about troubled unicorns - the corporate kind. Books on Theranos, Uber, Tesla, and now WeWork (obviously Uber and Tesla are not fallen, but have had their growing pains). Part of this is because as someone who lived through the 90s internet boom, I am more thoughtful about Internet 2.0. So I read this in 24 hours.

WeWork is not quite as awful as Theranos, but is a failure nonetheless. The book, which grew out of a NYMag piece that the author wrote on WeWork, covers the
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Mehrsa
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Come for the schadenfreude and stay because it's even worse than you think it's going to be. I think so much of the "founder myth" is marketing and fluff and most people know it, but they want to believe it. WeWork was just an intense collective self-induced delusion. I think most people were always skeptical of Neumann but also believed that if other people were duped, that they could pretend too. It's just so incredibly offensive to the majority of humans in the world who worked their butts of ...more
Oriana
Oct 16, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-soon
Ohhhh damn. Never has a hate-read looked so good!
Meagan Houle
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Maybe this says something unflattering about my character, but I am intrigued by books about the rise and fall of Silicon Valley startups, and the cults of personality that tend to build up around individual founders. I suppose it's comforting, somehow, to know that just because someone has millions of devotees, tons of wealth, and buckets of unwarranted confidence, they're not always destined for sustainable success. For those who, like me, frequently struggle with irrational self-doubt, it's b ...more
Emily
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Picked this up as a potential readalike for Bad Blood, and I was not disappointed. This story of the rise and fall of a unicorn startup is extremely well documented while still maintaining a fast pace and reading like a compelling page-turner. Jaw-dropping excess and financial maneuvering abounds. Even if you know nothing about WeWork this is fascinating stuff.
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Jun 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive.

Company or Cult?
Billion Dollar Loser takes on the story of the company WeWork, but author Reeves Wiedeman chooses to focus the story - appropriately - on its charismatic cofounder and CEO, Adam Neumann. The book discusses most aspects of the story of WeWork's rise and fall, but highlights Adam's behavior throughout the saga and, given how much control he had over the company, how pretty much everything came back around to him. I
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William Wong
Having lived through much of the experience described in this book, it was nonetheless a thrilling trip down memory lane that revealed new insights and detail that even I, as a former rank and file employee, was not fully privy to. Well written and excellently paced, finding the right balance between detours into juicy anecdotes and higher level reflections and lessons to learn, which is difficult to pull off sometimes in these business case study books.

This is well worth the read for the genera
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Rick Wilson
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it
WeWorks rise reads like a coked out 5 AM conversation between two tech bros.


“So, yeah, startup idea, we just like rent all these desks”
“Desks?”
“Yeah desks. Like people pay us to give them a place to work.”
“Bro I hate work, did I tell you I interviewed at Uber?”
“Yeah bro. That’s why we make work not suck. With like kegs, and ping-pong tables”
“Dude, that’s such a good idea. Everyone would sign up. Nobody like work but everyone loves beer”
“And music.”
And music. We could bump music so hard in our o
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Surbs
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i loved it!!! i loved it so much. im dwunkies so this wont be coherent review but ill write that in the mroring. anywaysss thiwas a really fun informative read. i think it focused moe on neumann's cult of personality vs hard data/logic- i wish it had gone more ito implications of softbank' s enormous investments/almost hostile advisory stratgegies for examples. but yahhh yanno it was usnfies xD

if you know me you now i hate wework. ive hated it sine i was a sophie in college. every time i passed
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Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)
QUICK TAKE: ultimately this one wasn't for me. I was hoping it was similar to Silicon Valley deep dives like BAD BLOOD and SUPER PUMPED, but I think I'm officially exhausted from tech bros behaving badly. Also, I didn't know much about WeWork before starting this book, but it wasn't that interesting of a topic to me. I'd be curious what people who know a lot more about the company and the history of its rise and fall felt about this one... ...more
Kirsti
I keep referring to this book as Million-Dollar Asshole, which of course is inaccurate.

Anyway, this is the story of a tall, handsome college dropout who starts a couple of different companies. He has never worked for anyone else (though he did serve a multiyear stint in the Israeli navy), so unsurprisingly he is terrible at managing people and often cannot even be trusted to interact politely with employees.

He is a talented salesman, he marries a rich and well-connected person, he practices ne
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Stephen Heiner
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, fun
Yet another one of these cautionary tales. I consider it a third in an unholy trinity of Super Pumped (Uber), and Bad Blood (Theranos). If you watch documentaries you can add both Netflix and Hulu's documentaries on the Fyre Festival and the machinations of Billy McFarlane.

The word that stands out to me from this book is "blitz-scaling." It's a neologism that comes to us via Reid Hoffman, formerly of LinkedIn. You might guess at its meaning: world-beating growth, at whatever cost.

In this latest
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Mico Go
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fraud
At the end of the day, it isn’t the ambition that sets apart the start-ups that made it from the ones that didn’t — it’s what becomes of that tenacity, once the goal starts gaining buoyancy, and is within reach.

This books tells of Adam Neumann, who in my opinion, is a real prick. Yes, he possessed drive and a pretty innovative idea (co-working spaces around the world), but at the same time, made too many empty promises with nothing to show for them. I mean, don’t get me wrong — they landed mu
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Sonya
Nov 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Can I consider it ironic that I finished this book about a CEO with delusions of grandeur and a gross level of hubris bluffing his way through billions of dollars on the same day that we learn that Biden/Harris has won the election, displacing a CEO with delusions of grandeur and a gross level of hubris bluffing his way through four years of American carnage (which he promised in his Inaugural Address, if you remember)? The book itself is bogged down in detail that detracts from the narrative. I ...more
John Devlin
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Wow, $9,000 a month on beer, and WeWork rents office space.

The grandiose delusions are all here. It’s Theranos but for tables and chairs.

This difference between the two companies is the core of the analysis.

Theranos was far worse since it put peoples’ lives at risk, but at least there the company’s black box technology kept a veil over just what a con the company was.

Here, WeWork was leasing office space. In other words, people should have known the company’s valuations were insane, it’s burn ra
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Caroline Chang
May 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Hahaha that was whack
I loved reading about it
Claire Shadid
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow this book is insane. WeWork and it’s founder, Adam Neumann, give me major Theranos/Elizabeth Holmes vibes. I think my favorite part is that he almost used WeWork funds to invest in Billy McFarland’s first company Magnises - an incredible intersection with my all time favorite fraud, Fyre Fest.
Jonathan Mckay
29th book of 2021: 21st Century Economy

He is 1/4 crazy, 1/4 brilliant, and the other half is a fight between his ego and genuinely caring for people.

While this sentence describes Adam Neumann, it could be said about almost any startup founder or successful venture capitalist. Every startup needs an element of irrationality when salaries of companies like Google and Facebook are enough to surpass even the lofty expectations of ivy-league millennials. The most successful VCs must make contrar
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Mike
This dude makes me nauseous. I have experience in M&A/Distressed workouts, etc. Working in those environments made so many things about this tool, Adam, ring familiar.

I'm always impressed with the ability of a CEO (salesman #1) to get in front of a group of smart business people and give a pitch of something like:

"But this is where there's a twist in the usual story. We finally just starting questioning everything about the process. Is the process actually congruent with our customers desire
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Magdalene Lim
Nov 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book has more drama than the Korean dramas I’m watching now. What a charismatic guy who can sell ice to eskimos. I learnt the term blitz scaling, how investors want the Bs and how a terrible work culture (low pay, long hours) can attract people just cos’ it’s cool to work there and you spend so much time with your colleagues that they feel like family.

For a corporate story, this was plenty interesting though the end was a bit meh. I know it’s non fiction but still… 😅 Reading so much about
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Curtis Shank
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Halfway through. VERY difficult to put down.
Susan Howard
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Scratches the itch if you are looking for a Bad Blood-esque tale of unicorn delusion.
Elizabeth
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5/5.
- *great* research on wework’s history. wiedeman did a phenomenal job of fleshing out the details, understanding how one event led to another, and drawing the reader in as a witness
- wiedeman's descriptions of adam neumann seem a little intent on portraying the CEO as a charismatic, narcissistic leader (unless that’s really all he is lol), instead of delving deeper into neumann’s psyche and background, exploring how they influence his actions
- interesting how business & religious leaders
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Justas Šaltinis
May 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
"Adam told Schreiber [investor] that WeWork, which didn't have a single location or even registered company, was worth USD 45 million. Schreiber agreed to commit USD 15 million to fund the idea."

"The nature of the private markets is that if nine smart investors pass, it only takes one relatively dumber investor, and suddenly WeWork is valued at USD 16 billion."

"The only good news was that the company quickly realized it would have to delay the layoffs: by mid-October, it was a few weeks from run
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Alex Lenz
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you’re looking for something reminiscent of Fyre Festival, please, look no further. Especially because Adam Neumann was buddies with Billy McFarland. And also wanted WeWork to acquire Billy’s Magnises credit card. All too telling. Other juicy name drops and connections as well, but don’t want to spoil too much. I loved this train wreck.
Justine
I cannot express to you how far out of my usual genre this book is -- I'd normally never consider picking up a nonfiction business book. However, after binging the WeCrashed podcast last year, I've been incredibly interested in the story of WeWork and its spectacular fall from grace. Wiedeman does a great job of providing a timeline for the company getting off the ground, rising to dazzling heights, and eventually crashing back into the ground. Highly recommended (especially the audiobook) to an ...more
Tori Hoeschler
Mar 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Back in 2019, I was in the market for a solo office space in one of the many coworking facilities that had opened up in my hometown of Minneapolis. I scheduled several appointments to tour the spaces at outfits like Industrious, Fueled Collective, and WeWork.
Although the WeWork rents were the lowest of the facilities I approached, it was the one appointment I canceled. In speaking with the facility manager at the time, I remember thinking, “oh my god, this person has consumed so much corporate
...more
Krithika
Oct 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Should have guessed by the title, but this one was a little too gleeful in its schadenfreude. It’s clear the author decided to provide outsized importance to the most audacious quotes and anecdotes while breezing over the more important—but perhaps not as juicy—developments. (As just one example, Adam’s resignation and unprecedented exit package is glossed over in just a couple of sentences.)
Brett Coleman
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was there. I felt as excited and hypnotized and passionate and, ultimately, as anxious and sad and furious reading it as I did living through it.
Michael
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Such an insightful and revealing book. The author has done a great job of presenting history from a neutral prespective. The book gives an honest look at Adan Neumann and WeWork. The story was captivating and takes you on a range of emotions. I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway!
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“You get to a question of, is that what capitalism is supposed to do?” Schwartz asked. “There’s so many little ways that a company like this tells the next generation of entrepreneurs what success looks like. One way to ask this question is, in the system we have set up, do the people who were successful reflect the values we want? Should we care, or not care, if someone makes a lot of money exploiting the system?” Schwartz didn’t mind if Adam got rich; he wanted to get rich, too. “The reason I care is that if the most successful companies are the ones that just drive really hard, and play fast and loose with the truth,” Schwartz said, “then maybe the whole idea that capitalism is great, or even useful, is really challenging to uphold.” 3 likes
“One person at WeWork wasn’t worried about the company’s future. “Do you know how long it takes a diamond to be created?” Adam asked a reporter during Summit. “Half a million to four million years. I love that analogy—to make something very precious, you have to apply a lot of pressure.” 1 likes
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