The WeWork Documentary Filled Me With White Hot Rage

WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn is a well-produced, truly enraging documentary.

The WeWork documentary nearly sent me into a blind rage this week, and that’s really saying something! It’s what we chose for this week’s pick for You Love To See It (as part of Nice Try July!), and the combination of sheer biz bro and tech bro hubris and worker exploitation really is a recipe for righteous anger!

As always, you can listen to the show in the embed, or find it on your podcatcher of choice here. I’m including our show notes here, which contain some creative capitalization and spoilers, but should give a good sense of our research and thoughts moving into recording day. You can also read the full transcription below our show notes, if you prefer your podcast in this format!

Our Synopsis:

This is a depressingly familiar story of a tech bro who thinks he is a minor deity trying to change the world through iffy business practices. This one includes a lot of younger millennials, New York City dreams, and a horrifying cult summer camp, but you know the beats: the rich assholes got away with awful things, and the people who worked hard got fucked!

And here are our must-discuss notes:

Fernanda’s must-discuss items:

  • As a documentary, this is a pretty competent/textbook little piece. If with Beanie Mania I had some thoughts about lack of context, I don’t think this was the case here. They added a variety of sources from different facets, and I think had pretty good backup material for all the ones that (obviously) didn’t want to speak. There were the money people to add economic context, the journalist people to add cultural context, the inside people to add inside context, that last crying lady in the end to add emotional context.  However, unlike with Beanie Mania, as far as a film goes, this wasn’t particularly charming or memorable. Of course, the theme was much drier than beanie babies, so I can understand why. I think they did have some nice little choices, like adding the little cuts of the glutinous kids eating pasta or the Eyes Wide Shut scene, but ultimately it just stuck to the basics. I don’t think that’s a problem, though. As someone who had read/listened/watch previous stuff about WeWork, I didn’t really learn anything new, but I also think that if I was a normal person who spends time consuming normal content and hadn’t had a previous introduction to the theme, this would give me enough to chew on. My mind wasn’t blown but I wasn’t bored either, which honestly is a win in my book.wework rebekah
  • Let’s all take a moment to send Rosario Dawson positive vibes and healing after being part of Rebekah Neuman’s movie. 
  • If there were any doubts that I have way too much time on my hands, let that be squashed by the knowledge that I watched the whole WeCrashed show on Apple TV. It stars Jared Leto as Adam and Anne Hathaway as Rebekah and it’s… Honestly, it’s fine, but not something I would actively recommend to anyone among all the other entertainment choices available on TV. One thing it did, and that I also heard in Wondery’s WeCrashed podcast (which is hosted by Scott Galloway, one of the media people featured in the documentary) is give a lot of focus on Rebekah and her role on the whole thing. Maybe it’s just me, but I did get the impression that the doc focused on Rebekkah more as one of the main characters on the downfall (well, relative downfall, after all they’re still around) of the company and less as one of the forces behind building it in the first place. And, from what I could gather, she was a pretty big force. When you think about it, none of this would have happened had it not been for Adam’s insane hubris, and she seems to have been a propeller (or at least a potent accelerant) of that very hubris from the start. Also, as easy as it is to mock a lot of the “white lady who did ayahuasca once” spiritual bullshit that she churned, what was Adam’s bullshit if not a tech dude version of it? Had it not been for them feeding off of each other, I don’t know whether the WeWork monster would have grown to such gargantuan proportions.
  • On the WeCrashed note… I encourage you to look at a picture of Jared Leto and tell me if he looks anything like Adam Neumann on the show. I have beef with make-up meant to make pretty actors ugly, but I have a PARTICULAR beef with make-up that makes them ugly whilst STILL not making them look like the person they’re meant to portray. Also, Leto is, what, 5-foot-10, tops? Adam was KNOWN for being a Very Tall Dude. Like, Very Tall Dude was very much part of his personality. ARE WE JUST IGNORING HIS VERY TALL DUDENESS NOW? IS THIS WHAT WE’VE COME TO AS A SOCIETY?  On the other hand, getting an incredibly douchey dude who may or may not low-key be a cult leader to play Adam was really a stroke of genius.
  • I watched Hulu’s The Dropout (about Elizabeth Holmes, featuring Amanda Seyfried) right after I watched WeCrashed and one thing that continues to intrigue me about these two people was the question of whether they were actual visionaries who truly believed in the shit they were selling or if they were just master con artists who wanted to sell their bullshit and run away with whatever people were willing to pay for it. And honestly I think it’s kind of both? I think they are both products of a generation with a very specific idea of not just success but of transcendental genius status, and they had it in their minds that that’s what they wanted to be. They both ended up zooming in on their ideas of what would get them there, and ultimately I do think that there must have been some level of drinking their own kool-aid, or they wouldn’t have taken it this far. I think they’re what happens when you drop a mixture of ego, entitlement and enabling onto narcissists. Like the Powerpuff Girls mix but instead of cute superheroes we got power-tripping egomaniacs.
  • Conversely… On the last show I talked a bit about this idea of schadenfreude and how we tend to get this almost primal glee from seeing people who try big things to fail big, too. It’s an almost paradoxical sentiment, I think, the way we culturally uphold these borderline pathological overachievers (think Jobs, Bezos, Musk) and the joy we get from seeing them get fucked (which wasn’t really the case with Neumann, if you consider the golden parachute he got to exit the company). Not to mention that the line that divides them between visionaries and total lunatics is, quite often, simply the end result. It’s fascinating to me that we tend to react so viscerally to these people when, at the end of the day, how different are they from so many of the aspirational figures of society? On that note, this New York Times review of Reeves Wiederman’s Adam Neumann book has a very interesting little note:

“In America, where we moralize our money and monetize our morals, fat cats who go bust tend to be viewed as cautionary figures, singular exemplars of malfeasance, not routine casualties of the fickle system that exalted them in the first place.”

  • wework adam reportsI find it very telling when The Atlantic journalist admits he didn’t press Adam on some of his statements on the company because he didn’t quite understand what the company was. It’s hilarious to me because I do feel like that’s how companies like these manage to get this much traction or basically go unchallenged for this long. I do think that there’s a lot of “Hm, I don’t get it, but there must be something to it, because everyone else seems to get it” element that no one wants to admit because it’s just so dumb. And then the minute someone is brave enough to yell that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes (in this case, Calloway with the “WTF” post about the IPO and the reporters who ran the takedown-ish Neumann story) so that everyone can snap out of their collective trance. 

Danielle’s must-discuss items:

  • Once again, I do enjoy the filmmaking here: especially the use of archival footage and even light animation with the standups. This is a visually arresting documentary, even if it is telling a depressingly familiar tale here.wework adam speaking
  • I will say, I’ve had a spectacularly awful week (month? Last few months) and am therefore in the perfect headspace to just fully embrace my hate of Adam the tech bro who got away with all of this mess. He and his C-We-Os are such hate-able, perfect vessels for the evils of our very fucked up version of late capitalism, especially dressed in that tech smarm about changing the world.

Here’s the Full Transcript:

YLTSI 131

Danielle: Oh, hi there, and welcome to You Love to See It, Fanbyte’s movie review podcast. Every month we pick a theme, and every week we watch a movie, and then we decide where its VHS tape—yes, VHS tape—belongs in our delightful neighborhood video store. We’ll judge whether it’s good enough to break the lease and live the good life on the staff picks shelf, whether it attended summer camp enough times to earn a spot in our totally fine middle aisle, or whether it’s got nothing but shitty biz bro vibes and it goes right into our crappy dumpster where Gwyneth Paltrow’s somehow more out of touch cousin screams spiritual affirmations at you constantly. Working the counter today, we have yours truly, Danielle “farted on camera” Riendeau and my fellow, “we, we!” [Fernanda laughs] Fernanda, “Latte–”

Fernanda: Work!

Danielle: [laughs] Sorry, I got– we, we! Fernanda–

Fernanda: Uh…

Danielle: Yes, please, please.

Fernanda: No, I was gonna do the gong, insert gong sounds.

Danielle: Oh!

Fernanda: Gong sound!

Danielle: Oh, the gong sounds! [Fernanda laughs] Gong! That would be the gong sound of Fernanda “Latte that is actually a cappuccino” Prates. How are you today, Fernanda?

Fernanda: I’m doing good. Not as good as the people being very drunk at summer camp [Danielle laughs] and, I don’t know, wakeboarding and, you know, subscribing to the cult of Adam Neumann.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: But pretty good, you know, considering.

Danielle: I mean, I’m pretty glad. It’s also funny, ’cause this one could have been for cult month, but I’ll read…

Fernanda: It could have.

Danielle: I’ll read our description for Nice Try July. This one’s almost like both, you know? A little bit of both.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Which is always lovely when we have connective tissue. But yes, for this month with Nice Try July, we are twisting the habitually positive narrative around human endeavor and entrepreneurial spirit and diving into what happens to people who went big when maybe they should have just gone home. Join us in this celebration of people who truly had the audacity, as we travel through fleeting fads, failed efforts, fallen businesses, and flat out fakes! This is Nice Try July, because success is cool and all, but failure is objectively funnier. And this week, we [Fernanda: “We!”] are looking at the 2021 documentary WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn.

[trailer plays]

Danielle: And holy shit, was this a time to be alive and a time to watch. [Fernanda laughs] We’re going right into our Setting the Scene segment, which is where we introduce the movie at hand, we have a little spoiler-free chat about our history with it. But first, to those unfamiliar with the story, here’s a brief summary of the movie that I have prepared, through my own point of view, my lens, if you will.

So, this documentary is a depressingly familiar story of a tech bro who thinks he’s a minor deity trying to change the world through iffy business practices. This one includes a lot of younger millennials, New York City dreams, and a horrifying cult summer camp. [Fernanda laughs] But you know the general beats, if you’ve seen anything like this before. The rich assholes get away with a lot of awful things, and the people who work really hard get fucked! That’s, you know, I don’t think I’m spoiling a single thing, [Fernanda: “Nope”] because that’s kinda what happens all the time.

Fernanda: Yeah, that’s…

Danielle: But that’s the sort of general synopsis, right? Yeah.

Fernanda: Yeah. It’s like within the context of, as we said last episode, the biggest scam of all: capitalism.

Danielle: Yes, precisely, precisely. And because you’ve given me that excellent little nugget there in that great little transition, Fernanda, what’s your history with this movie? I know you have a long and storied history with [Fernanda laughs] learning about this scam and consuming media about this scam, and I just want to hear about it. What’s your history with WeWork and the Making of a $47 Billion Unicorn?

Fernanda: That’s a mouthful of a name for the documentary, by the way. I always forget it.

Danielle: Oh, it sure is. [laughs]

Fernanda: I just type like “WeWork documentary” and hope Google finds its way. I first– so, I first like started hearing about WeWork when it, quote, unquote, “collapsed,” ’cause it never collapsed, right? It still exists.

Danielle: It still exists, which is wild. Yeah.

Fernanda: It’s wild. We actually have a WeWork right next to us here in Mexico City. [Danielle laughs] But the thing– I first heard about it listening to like The Daily or some other like super big mainstream podcast, talking specifically about how Adam Neumann managed to create this whole thing, tank it, and jump out with an unbelievably golden parachute, the sweetest freaking deal.

[Danielle laughs] And it was about, I think at the time, the layoffs, because that’s what was really, you know, making people really angry, rightfully so, at the time, because I remember it was just a wild percentage of the company getting laid off.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And you can imagine a company that was hiring at the speed that they were and just all of a sudden be like, “Oh, you know what? In hindsight, this really wasn’t sustainable, so bye, you guys.”

Danielle: [laughs] Ugh.

Fernanda: But I got really curious, because I’m not the most economically savvy person. Like, I don’t really understand the inner workings of markets that well, especially in the US. And like, in my mind, I was just like, this sounds ridiculous. How did this company manage to be valued at this? How did Adam Neumann manage to make this much money with just a whole lot of nothing behind it? Like, this sounds completely absurd to my laywoman brain. [Danielle laughs] I need to dig deeper into it. And then as, you know, the deeper I dug, the more I was like, no, this really is fucking absurd. This is not just me being like… [laughs]

Danielle: Oh yeah.

Fernanda: This is not just me being stupid and not understanding. This is a completely ridiculous facet of how these companies are– how valuations work and, you know, it is very inflamed and everything is very artificial. So I got really curious and kind of started digging into it. The first thing I did was get the book Billion Dollar Loser, which the author actually got to interview Adam, [Danielle: “Wow!”] and I think it was like the last interview– yeah, I think it was the last interview he gave, but this was before everything came like tumbling down. I got halfway through it, didn’t finish it. Just, I don’t know, ’cause I’m like just, you know, a crow that wants shiny objects and is like, “Ah, another shiny thing appeared. Drop the book.” [Danielle laughs] But then I watched the WeCrashed show on Apple TV with Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway. She, by the way, plays Rebekah brilliantly.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: But we’ll get into all of this, I’m sure. And I also listened to the Wondery podcast WeCrashed, and then they made like a companion version of it along with the show, where every week, the host, who was actually Scott Galloway, which appears in the documentary [Danielle: “Mm”] and who published that first WTF article when the…they made the, I forgot the name, the bidding sort of for the IPO thing public. He’s the person who sort of blew the lid on the whole thing, and he hosts the show with like several guests every week, discussing every episode, and it ended up being very interesting. I heard a few episodes before watching the documentary that we’re specifically gonna discuss today.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And then after watching, I went back today and heard some other ones, and it’s very interesting. But needless to say, it’s a very rich text. [both laugh]

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And I feel like we’re seeing it in a very specific lens of a time where characters like Adam Neumann and, you know, there’s the also, I watched it right after this show, right before this show, about Elizabeth Holmes, The Dropout.

Danielle: Mm.

Fernanda: And also there’s the Uber show, which I hated so much. I could not get past the first episode. [Danielle laughs] But yeah, I feel like we’re at a very interesting time to sort of analyze these characters in the context of what it means to exist in the world, in this capitalistic hell hole that we currently find ourselves in.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: So I feel like we have some rich texts to discuss today.

Danielle: Oh my God, do we ever. I truly think we do. And like, instead of talking about my history with the movie, I want to talk about the context I watched it in, just slightly. I’ll just give some hints. So this is like, the history of me watching it is just that I watched it yesterday, but I’m having a not the best time, in my life. There’s a lot of things going on. And so, I was able to watch this with the most clear-headed rage [Fernanda laughs] I think I’ve ever watched a documentary in, in my entire fucking life. Like, just the cleanest, the purest rage, just running through my veins the entire time at all of these things. So, some of it’s specific to how much I hate the portrayal of New York City as like a place where entitled millennials can fart around and do everything, and the movie does dissect that to some extent. There’s a little bit of that, where there are people who like talk about like, you know, this isn’t for real people. You know, especially in context [Fernanda: “Yeah”] of like the educational things that they go through and things like that.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: But yeah, I just, oh my God. It was like, give me the gasoline, and give me the fire, and here we go. Like, oh, the purest hatred I think I’ve ever felt. [Fernanda laughs] Just, oh, it’s delicious. Oh, I’m just drinking it down! And Fernanda and dear listeners, I think you all know I’m actually a pretty positive person.

Fernanda: Yeah, absolutely.

Danielle: I’m like a really nice person. I see the good in everyone. I try to see the good in everyone. I like, you know, for fucking funsies, I go out in an ambulance and I help people who are sick and screaming and hurt. Like, I do that for fun! I’m pretty nice. But this was like, oh! Oh, the recipe for hatred! Oh, delicious. Ugh. Anyway. [laughs] That’s my history!

Fernanda: You really are a human care bear. [Danielle laughs] And that’s why, like, I always love it when you’re angered by something, ’cause it means something.

Danielle: Yeah, it does. And like, to be clear, I’m not angry at this movie.

Fernanda: You’re angry at–

Danielle: I think the filmmakers did a good job.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I’m angry at this person and this organization and all the factors of our shithole society that empower people like this while other people are starving and dying. Like, that’s… [laughs] That’s where the rage is. I just want to be very, very clear. The filmmakers, they did a great job. I think they did a great job.

Fernanda: Before even we move on, that’s what I wanted to ask you, ’cause I was curious watching it.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: How familiar were you with the whole WeWork story before watching the documentary?

Danielle: Yeah. I just know the bits and pieces.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I just kind of know what everybody knows. And like, before I lived in Brooklyn, I lived in San Francisco, so I already had like feelings about tech.

Fernanda: Mm, yes.

Danielle: You know, and tech evangelism, which is sort of how the documentary starts, with like, [Fernanda: “Yeah”] oh, this was like tech evangelism on the east coast. A little bit of that. Obviously, they went everywhere. They’re all over the world, I know. But like, kind of did have this start in New York, so.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Yeah, so I had feelings, I had some personal feelings, just sort of knowing the general beats of the story. I know it all fell apart. I knew they grew really fast, they had a wild leader, and it all kind of fell apart. So yeah, just the outline, more or less, [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] of what had happened. Not seen the other show, [laughs] not yet, anyway! I don’t know if I could get through it, again, with the rage. The rage is feeding me and fueling me, but it might be exhausting. So, you know. That’s a thing.

Fernanda: Yeah, there’s a limit to how much rage can…it’s like taking a very good pre-workout, [Danielle: “Right!”] and then you go like all out for like 45 minutes, and then it’s just a steady– I feel like the rage fuel kind of has a shelf– [laughs]

Danielle: Yeah. It has a limit. Yeah. [laughs]

Fernanda: It has a limit. It only goes so– and then there’s a steep decline, and it starts like actually eating away at your reserves.

Danielle: Exactly.

Fernanda: So I feel like there’s a healthy limit to be told there. I wouldn’t recommend doing what I did and just diving that deep into the WeWork universe.

Danielle: [laughs] Yeah.

Fernanda: Especially at your current state of mind.

Danielle: Yeah. [laughs]

Fernanda: I feel like you’re dealing with just the optimal amounts of hate fuel at the moment [Danielle: “Yeah, yeah”] to operate your everyday life.

Danielle: Yeah, I think so.

Fernanda: I feel like we should just work to maintain it throughout this show.

Danielle: I like that. That’s really good. [both laugh]

Fernanda: Like, stop doing shots right now. Let’s just stay, like, drink light beers.

Danielle: Yes.

Fernanda: Just to kind of like work that maintenance, the delicate maintenance.

Danielle: You’re my rage trainer, and I love it. [Fernanda laughs] You are like absolutely my rage trainer right now. It’s really good. It’s really good.

Fernanda: My young Padawan, [Danielle: “Yes!”] there’s a lot to learn about the ways of the rage.

Danielle: [laughs] WeRage. Yeah, it’s really good. [both laugh]

Fernanda: But that encourages me for the discussion that is about to ensue.

Danielle: Yeah.

[transition]

Danielle: Yeah, which we should just dive right in. Fernanda, I do want to talk about kind of your– one of your first notes here is about like how this works as a documentary, which I think is a good way to kind of jump into it, right? Like this, to me, it felt– I liked it. I thought they made some really fun choices with [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] some of the cuts. They use a lot of archival footage that’s pretty fun.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: It’s some interesting choices with some of that archival footage. Some light, you know, animation that they clearly commissioned for this.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: So it’s like, it’s pretty visually interesting and fun, and it does move along at quite a nice pace, but I want to hear your sort of feelings about the filmmaking itself. Like, what, you know, what kind of ingredients went into the stew here?

Fernanda: I think it’s a very competent film– documentary.

Danielle: Sure, sure.

Fernanda: Like, as far as documentaries go, I think it’s very textbook.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: It has, I think, a little bit of everything. Whereas last week, when we talked about Beanie Mania, I like felt like we were missing some like talking heads that were not [Danielle: “Mm”] necessarily directly involved in the experience but could from an outsider’s perspective sort of give context and sort of place this in the sort of economic and cultural moment that made the whole phenomenon possible.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: I think with this one we had that. I feel like they did a very good job at getting sources. Like, obviously they weren’t gonna get Adam. [Danielle laughs] Obviously they weren’t gonna get Rebekah and Miguel and people. And I’m guessing all of these people probably had like– people high up probably had NDAs up the wazoo.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: I always wanted to say “up the wazoo.” Thank you for making–

Danielle: I love that phrase.

Fernanda: Yeah, I don’t know…

Danielle: It’s good. Yeah. [both laugh]

Fernanda: Thank you, You Love to See It, for making yet another dream happen today. [Danielle laughs] But you know, you can see why they weren’t– they wouldn’t be able to get those like very inside sources, [Danielle: “Mm”] but I feel like they made up for that, like I said, with a lot of good footage. They had a lot of footage of the actual events.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And I do like when they introduce the little fun elements that you mentioned, right? Like, somebody references walking into a ceremony and it feeling like an Eyes Wide Shut little moment, [Danielle laughs, “Yeah”] and then they put actual footage of Eyes Wide Shut, or…you know, just the little cute little quirky things. The kids, right, when they’re talking about Adam’s–

Danielle: Oh my God, the kids eating. Yeah.

Fernanda: Eating pasta and getting all dirty, and it’s while it’s talking about Adam’s and WeWork’s ridiculous expansion through New York with the little ??? coming up, like this whole thing, these touches, I thought were cute. I miss more of it. I felt…

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah.

Fernanda: Whereas I feel like it’s a more complete documentary than Beanie Mania was, I feel like it’s less charming.

Danielle: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, yeah.

Fernanda: But do you need to be charming? It’s a documentary. Like, no, arguably–

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: That’s why I say it’s competent. Like, I’m not gonna– it didn’t blow my mind. I’m probably gonna forget I watched it at some point, but I do feel like it kind of hit all the major points, as somebody who knew so much about the story. And I forget a lot of things all the time. So, okay, as somebody who knew moderate– [Danielle laughs] who consumed a lot of content and retained a moderate amount of it, [Danielle laughs] I didn’t learn anything new from the documentary.

Danielle: Sure.

Fernanda: But that’s not necessarily a problem, I think. It’s like a good– I feel like a very good introduction. There were some things I wish they touched on, because, so, as I remember, they only talked about one of Adam’s previous businesses, which was the Krawlers.

Danielle: Oh my God. Yep. Yep.

Fernanda: [laughs] Where he made onesies for babies with little padded knees, because apparently babies have been crawling forever, but now it’s a problem.

Danielle: Yeah, right.

Fernanda: And the slogan, “Just because they don’t tell you, doesn’t mean they don’t hurt,” or some ridiculous thing.

Danielle: Oh my God.

Fernanda: But he also had a more ridiculous business venture before that.

Danielle: Oh no.

Fernanda: He had a shoe with a collapsible heel.

Danielle: What? [laughs]

Fernanda: Like throughout the day, you can just wear it normally, and then if you’re gonna go out, you pull the heel up or some shit. And the story goes that one day, the woman who was showcasing the shoe—which might have been his sister, I’m not sure—like nearly got her finger cut off by the heel.

Danielle: Oh my God! [both laugh]

Fernanda: To collapse it back in for a business demonstration. So, they didn’t mention those little things that I just feel like enrich the story, but I don’t feel like you miss out on this story. And there are some like really tacky things, right? Like in the end, [Danielle: “Yeah”] when they put that woman who works for WeWork and started crying, you know, [Danielle: “Yeah”] talking about how disillusioned, how she felt like she lost not only her job but her purpose. Not that what she was saying was overly dramatic. I could absolutely understand that.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Like, we all know the impact of losing a job in our lives, right?

Danielle: It sucks. Yeah, yeah.

Fernanda: It really sucks. Especially a job where you’re sucked in like a freaking cult.

Danielle: Yep.

Fernanda: But the way they edited it and put it in the end of the documentary is super cheesy.

Danielle: It’s a little much. [both laugh]

Fernanda: Very excessive.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: But at the same time, I feel like it just added to the whole, like, I feel like they ticked all the boxes, right? Like, serious things: da doo!

Danielle: [laughs] Yeah.

Fernanda: Like, funny little moments: da doo! Like sad, let’s cry, this is very sad: da doo! So, they really…

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: I feel like they checked the boxes there.

Danielle: Yeah, there’s parts of this, as someone who worked at a company that has this vibe a thousand percent [Fernanda: “Mm”] and has this vibe in its space a thousand percent, there were so many points where I was just like, [singing wearily] I have worked basically in this exact fucking scenario!

Fernanda: Ugh, yeah.

Danielle: And I’m 90% sure one of the offices is in like a very– maybe the same building as their sort of headquarters or right near it, their sort of like original thing. So, it really– I guess I can’t say the name of it, but everybody fucking knows what I’m talking about. And like, it’s just…it hit me on such a gut level [Danielle: “Mm-hmm”] of like how intensely people can be a part of something that feels like a cult, but it’s really a job. Or feels like a family, but it’s really a job.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: And how you can lose your fucking mind in these scenarios. And I kind of have, even if I never was wearing the t-shirt and chanting the chants or anything like that.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: Like, there can be parts of like having a cool job, for example. We work in media, right? People–

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: At least some people would say we’ve got a cool job, right?

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I’m not going, you know, like to a mine everyday and mining.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I’m not going and picking up garbage every day, you know, things like that.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: Like, I get to make podcasts.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: And, you know, play games and write about them and things like that. And there are parts of this that I just saw a hundred percent in this documentary, of like, look at our cool work culture. We’re young. We’re cool. We have beer on tap. Look at how cool our–

Fernanda: Mm-hmm. Kombucha on tap.

Danielle: Yeah, kombucha on tap. Look at this beautiful coffee we can make right here at our office. And also like, this is a hell environment that’s hell, actually. But you know, but no, but like, you know, but it’s really cool and really good. And you’ll work a hundred hours a week sometimes, but it’s cool and good. It’s cool and good, though, because we’re cool millennials who are cool.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I’ve been in that environment.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: And so I was just like vibrating with rage during [laughs] some of these standup interviews, including with some of these young people who were clearly kind of, you know, under Adam’s spell to some extent. That woman especially, it’s very like, the way she talks about it. Like, his commanding presence, how tall and charismatic he is, and talking about, “You could be her, if you had confidence,” and she really took that to heart! And like… [sighs]

Fernanda: Imagine hearing that from your fucking boss.

Danielle: I know that there are parts of this where, as an outsider, you could watch that and be like, “Wow. You know, she wasn’t– she clearly was under his spell!” Like she, you know, “Oh, wow. This poor girl, this poor naive girl.” And it’s like, yeah, but sometimes that happens when you’re in this environment, [Fernanda: “Yeah, of course”] and you’re over-fucking-worked, and you are just trying so hard to make things work, and you’re trying not to be, you know, broke. You’re trying to pay rent in New York.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Like, I get it. Like, I got it. You know what I mean? The tears even, like, all of it. I was just like, yeah, I get it, man. My God, ugh.

Fernanda: And there are phases to this kind– to like our approach to work, right? Like, now…

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Because 10 years feels like nothing, but like, if you think about it, like a few years ago, the idea of like, “Oh, I have a Pinball machine at work,” how cool are you?

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: Like, right? That really was the thing that really made– oh, we can take breaks and play video games, like, oh my God.

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: Beer on tap, sign me up.

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: Now, we’re at a stage where our idea of like a healthy work environment is…well, A) at home. [laughs]

Danielle: Uh, yeah.

Fernanda: But B) like, no, I don’t want any of that. I want to get paid fairly. I want to have off time. I want to be able to, you know, take days for my mental health.

Danielle: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Fernanda: Like, our whole idea– we’re working, I think collectively, toward a four day work week, which I think some countries are already starting to test out, but like, we’re already like–

Danielle: Sure.

Fernanda: Our mindset has switched so much in 10, 15 years about what a good work environment is, that looking now at what those people were doing at the retreat and stuff, where we judge it, I feel like, unfairly. And you were saying, being in there, it’s much easier to get sucked into the sort of work culture, and how many of us?

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: I worked at a different company, a massive media company in Brazil, and it’s like…it wasn’t like that, but it was culty in different ways.

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah.

Fernanda: You know, we were putting up with sort of unacceptable behavior patterns in different ways. We all do. So it’s kind of like, how can I judge these people who are at a retreat, getting shitfaced for free?

Danielle: [laughs] Yeah.

Fernanda: Like, what if they’re yelling “WeWork” at a stage? Like, they’re probably not even registering that at that point.

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: It’s like, oh, let’s just yell this so we can go back to like, I don’t know, beer pong, whatever it is that the cool kids were doing. [laughs]

Danielle: Yeah. And like, there’s so much guilt, and so much of this I think is aimed at people from underserved communities too.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: There can be guilt from like your parents about like, are you working hard enough?

Fernanda: Yes.

Danielle: Are you putting enough hours in? Are you doing enough? And there is this sense of like, I’m so grateful to not be having a miserable job that I saw my parents have to struggle with.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I’m so grateful to not be at a miserable environment. Like, whatever you associate miserable environment with, which could be almost anything.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: [laughs] Most jobs are fucking awful and horrible [Fernanda: “Yeah”] and shouldn’t be and are. And, you know, there’s so much guilt that’s associated with this.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: That like, a lot of those people are probably like, “Well, you know, I’m working 80 hours a week, and I haven’t seen my family or my friends, and I couldn’t really have a life outside of work, but like, my friends are here, so it’s not that bad!”

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: “You know, it’s not like, oh, you know, my dad who had to do this for 40 years, miserable, [Fernanda: “Exactly, mm-hmm”] woke up every day miserable, came home miserable. Like, look at me, I’m having fun! I’m drinking a beer.” Where, and they’re being exploited. There’s no way they aren’t. Of course it’s exploitative.

It’s really, again, it fills me with rage at the people who thought this was acceptable, and like partially certainly at Adam, but also his entire—and I will, ugh—CWeO team, [Fernanda laughs] his whole C-suite of people who were like bragging about how many people they were firing, and it was like very, very, very, very predominantly like white fucking bros who are just getting to go and have fun and make videos about themselves, you know, like driving fast cars and being cool. Like, clearly these people deserve some of the blame too for facilitating all of this. And like, again, exploiting workers, like the worker who’s in there who’s like, “I had his password ’cause I was doing his job, and I saw I was about to be laid off.” [laughs]

Fernanda: Imagine.

Danielle: Like, it’s just absolute fucking madness how entitled these fucking assholes were. And of course it was allowed to happen because it’s, “Oh, this is the company we believe in, and all these visionary feelings,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, which is very familiar to anybody who has worked in tech or frankly has worked in certain media companies. Like, it’s very familiar to that, ’cause it’s the same kinds of vibes and the same kinds of practices that exist there.

Fernanda: And it’s interesting how we always go back to the white dudeness of it all, right?

Danielle: Ah, yeah. Yep.

Fernanda: And on the documentary, I feel like they don’t even explore it as much, but on the show, the, the Apple TV show, [Danielle: “Yeah”] and I was watching one of the– I was listening to one of the companion shows with a female reporter who wrote a thing on the New Yorker. I’m gonna find her name, but I can’t remember right now.

Danielle: Sure.

Fernanda: And she was talking about…there was a moment in the show that they explore a lot when Rebekah in a retreat mentioned that, in one of those parties, that one of women’s roles, one of her roles as a woman and like, you know, women’s roles is to support and encourage the men in their lives to do great things or some shit like that.

Danielle: Oh my fucking God. Jesus tapdancing Christ. [laughs] Yeah.

Fernanda: It’s wild. On the show, there’s like a massive like moment of backlash, and she does like a listening session where, you know, she has women talk, and I don’t know how much of that actually happened, but there was a moment where a girl comes up and like says, “Oh, by the way, working here sucks. [Danielle laughs] Like, the company like fucking sucks. We have to like stay up until like 3:00 A.M. drinking, just to like feel like we’re part of the team, and it is a very misogynistic environment.”

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And then on this this article, the female reporter talks about how she talked to a gay friend who at the time was in one of those…one of the show’s, whatever the fuck they did, retreats, the things that they do.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And Rebekah did say that about women, and there was a whole thing about like, a whole spiel about Rebekah and Adam talking about their relationship, and it was mandatory. And he said that he was made very uncomfortable by the sort of like heteronormative [Danielle: “Yeah, yeah”] maleness of it all, like that that was very much the vibe. And you can see, right, like as an allegedly progressive, like, “We don’t discriminate. That’s the future of work. This is the future of people. We embrace everything and everyone,” and then you look at the sort of the higher ranks of the company, and it looks like the higher ranks of every freaking company [Danielle: “Yep”] in the world, with Rebekah there. And that’s…

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Who’s still the epitome of white yoga lady. Like she’s…

Danielle: Yeah. Oh my fucking fuck. Yeah.

Fernanda: What were your thoughts? And that’s something I was curious about, because I’m coming from the perspective of having watched the show, which features Rebekah very heavily. As someone who just watched the documentary, how did you feel was Rebekah’s sort of role in the company?

Danielle: Yeah, I have… [sighs] All right. So, there’s like this conflicting thing, right? Of like, okay, you know, I’m a feminist, I don’t want to just throw women under the bus because of the patriarchy, et cetera, et cetera. But it felt like they made a pretty compelling case that this person is, you know, really out of touch with reality or the reality of most workers at this company and any company. And also, you know, they talk about her, I guess, partially launching the educational effort, which was $40 or $50 thousand a year tuition fee for five year olds, like that kind of thing.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: Which like, truly, like, could you be more out of touch? Like, I don’t know if you can. Like, she lives on another planet, basically, right? And it’s in terrible ways, in like very privileged ways and very sheltered ways that are not great for other people and not the way you make policy for other people or the way you make space for other people or you make room for other people! So it’s very, very, very frustrating to see her like really enabled to like white lady it up, like ultimate white lady it up, right? And I will tell you this too! There are things about, you know, the girlboss, white lady, “just put women in charge,” that also are– [laughs] also happen at major media companies, and nothing gets any better, because if somebody is girl power white ladying it up, she’s not necessarily gonna make anything better for anyone else.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: She’s just a white woman at the top instead of a white man at the top and not necessarily actually helping fucking anything. This feels like an example of that too.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Maybe even a little more wacky because of her obvious, you know, the film that they show where it’s– [laughs] God, the film that they show. You know, it’s like, she’s a filmmaker, and she’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s cousin, and she tells everyone that, and like…

Fernanda: Poor Rosario Dawson. She did not deserve that.

Danielle: Poor Rosario Dawson who’s just doing her best in this film. [Fernanda laughs] And my God, Rebekah just Rebekahing. I don’t know! Like, it’s a lot. It’s a lot to take, and clearly, you know, [sighs] there’s an aspect of this that is just they’re the most frustrating people who’ve ever lived, right?

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Like, just like thinking of all the characters in all the stories of all the world in terms of real people, and it’s like, who would I least want to be anywhere near like an elevator with? Like, who would I least want to be near? And it’s these people, right?

Fernanda: Rebekah.

Danielle: Like, it’s Rebekah and Adam for me, like both of them can like…ugh, Jesus. There is something–

Fernanda: She seems more insufferable, I think, but I don’t think that’s–

Danielle: I think they’re both awful.

Fernanda: That’s internalized misogyny on my part.

Danielle: Yeah, I just think they’re both awful in a different way. [Fernanda laughs] Like, the fact that he got his billions and got to jump out is real upsetting, but it’s also sort of–

Fernanda: But she got to jump out with him.

Danielle: I mean, that is a good point. She did get to jump out with him. Yes, that is true. I…ugh. Hmm.

Fernanda: And that’s the thing, like in the documentary, I feel like the role that they have Rebekah play in the company is more of like, well, she helped it collapse, because…

Danielle: Sure, sure.

Fernanda: Again, not entirely collapse, ’cause again, WeWork is still happening, and they’re I guess rich. I don’t know. [Danielle laughs] But they, that she had more of a role in the downfall, ’cause her like new agey quirky shit like started really factoring into the work, and you know, like she was equipped to do certain things, but certainly not to handle the business side of it, and that’s kind of like her responsibility.

Danielle: Hmm.

Fernanda: But like, Rebekah was actually a very integral part in making the company happen in the first place.

Danielle: Sure, sure, sure.

Fernanda: And that’s something that– so, the show does something that’s very interesting, and that’s a lot credit to Anne Hathaway for the way she plays Rebekah, [Danielle: “Mm”] that is like simultaneously make you more sympathetic toward her, because when you just see her as a clip on a podcast talking about elevating the world’s consciousness, she’s [Danielle: “Right”] extremely easy to hate.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: But it also makes her more detestable in other ways, [Danielle: “Yeah”] because the yoga babble– that’s a term that Galloway uses a lot. [Danielle laughs] He has, on the podcast, a yoga babble moment of the week when talking about this show.

Danielle: Ha!

Fernanda: It is just really something…no. And, and I think that to our 2022 ears, [Danielle: “Yeah”] it sounds more aggressive than it would sound to 2012 ears, but…

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: Especially like– and I love the descriptor of her managing to be even more out of touch than Gwyneth Paltrow, which is an achievement. It’s a feat.

Danielle: [laughs] It truly is. Like, that’s not easy.

Fernanda: But I feel like we even– I feel like she, her part in the actual building of the business is much bigger than I feel like, if you’re just watching the documentary, you were led to believe.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Because if you think about it, like a lot of what fueled Adam to, you know, go into– because he was a serial entrepreneur.

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: He had the Krawlers thing. He had the collapsable–

Danielle: The shoes.

Fernanda: The shoes. Like, he wanted to be a thing. He wanted to make money. He wanted to, you know, make his name, but he was lacking focus.

Danielle: Sure.

Fernanda: And she kind of came in, and through her new agey bullshit, was kind of like– and we don’t know. It’s very hard to know how to assess how much of it is real, how much of it is cin– like, it’s another conversation entirely, but that she was the one who really leveraged Adam to– in a business that was so driven by his hubris, you know?

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: By his idea that he was really like a demigod. A lot of it, she was behind it, and she was behind the company from the very beginning. She invested in it, like, she got money from her dad—this is on the show [Danielle: “Mm”] but apparently happened in real life too—when she got married.

Danielle: Sure.

Fernanda: A ridiculous amount, like a million dollars. By the way, her dad went to jail for like mail fraud involving a cancer foundation.

Danielle: Oh God.

Fernanda: Yeah. in honor of her brother who died of cancer when he was young.

Danielle: I see. I see.

Fernanda: So you have like, she invested that money on WeWork, which, as in this companion podcast, they mentioned it’s something that needs to be recognized. Like, that was business savvy on her end.

Danielle: Yeah, it was.

Fernanda: She invested in the ground floor of this thing. So, and she was– like, the duo Adam and Rebekah was really what made WeWork WeWork. And I don’t know if that’s empowering? Like, oh, again, they put the woman in this, like– in this documentary, they put the woman in this role of like just so secondary, when in the story it was more primary. I don’t know if it’s empowering or if it’s more of like an attack. [laughs]

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: But I just feel like she was more of a part of this than you might think just watching that one.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And I don’t think that’s– that’s credit to her, I guess, but also like, fuck her. I don’t know. [laughs]

Danielle: Yeah, ugh.

Fernanda: It’s a very interesting role that Rebekah Neumann occupies in my mind at the moment. And they stay together. Like, that’s…romance?

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: I guess? [laughs]

Danielle: Yeah. I mean, they’re fucking made for each other. Like, the question that ties into it and that ties into their relationship is how much they believe in their bullshit.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Or…so, they either clearly believe in their bullshit together, and that keeps them together.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Or they’re equally, like, they equally know that they’re being, you know, pulling a fucking scam basically, and they’re both in it together, ’cause they’re pulling a scam together! Like, whatever level of them knowing how much they’re full of shit… [laughs]

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: It feels equal, right? [laughs] In their partnership. Like, I mean, ugh. And that’s like a really hard thing to disentangle.

Fernanda: Right.

Danielle: I mean, there is that line about like, “If you tell a 30-something man he’s Jesus Christ, he’ll believe it.”

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Like, the Yale professor– I think it’s Yale. The business professor. NYU, sorry. I don’t remember what college, but–

Fernanda: Yeah, it’s Galloway. He’s the one who’s…

Danielle: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Gotcha. Which is like, yep.

Fernanda: Yeah, he’s an NYU professor.

Danielle: Oh, gotcha, gotcha. NYU. Yeah. [laughs] I mean, he’s right! And he has some of the best lines, by the way. Like, “They’re sellin’ desks.” Like, “They’re renting desks.” Like, what the fuck?

Fernanda: [laughs] Right.

Danielle: Like, he has some great, all time great lines in this about like, you know, “We’re changing the world, we’re changing everything,” which is like the tech thing, right? That’s the tech bro thing, that not only are we great and progressive and we have a business and we’re making money, but we’re changing the– we’re gonna make the world better. This is how we make the world better. Like, we’re gonna make things better. We have a calling. There’s that line that, you know, made me want to poke my eyes out about “Millennials don’t just want a job. They want a calling.” Like, that feels like a fucking avocado toast, you know, old man piece right there, but it’s… [both laugh] Yeah, it’s…

Fernanda: It speaks to a time too, no?

Danielle: It does. It does.

Fernanda: Again, like, I feel like 10 years ago, we had a lot more of an acceptance of this kind of– like a tolerance for this kind of bullshit than we have now.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Like, now we see right through it. And it’s interesting, ’cause as I was watching the documentary yesterday, I said the same thing as you. I was like, Galloway has the best lines, because [Danielle: “Oh, yeah”] while everybody is kind of tiptoeing around the situation, he’s not. He’s a constant like reality check. But as a reminder, Galloway interviewed Adam in like a public situation. They even show it– they didn’t show it in the documentary I think, but they do show it in the series, and he talks about it on his podcast.

Danielle: Ah.

Fernanda: And he…it’s not that he was like propping up Adam or encouraging him, but he says like, “I would love to say that I was like onto him the entire time we were talking, [Danielle: “Mm”] but I wasn’t.” And him and his guests are kind of talking about how like, talking to Adam, like, it takes you a while to process that what he was saying is bullshit, that you kind of get sucked into [Danielle: “Yeah”] the charm and whatever buzzword, ‘cause he speaks in like buzzword soup.

Danielle: Oh God, yep.

Fernanda: That institutional video that shows him just struggling profoundly with the teleprompter– which, by the way, relatable. Teleprompters are not as easy as they seem.

Danielle: It’s hard. [Fernanda laughs] It’s actually very hard, yeah. It’s legitimately tough. You have to like get the timing of it right, so it doesn’t scroll too fast.

Fernanda: Exactly.

Danielle: It’s a real whole-ass thing. [laughs]

Fernanda: It’s like, we can talk shit about this guy for many, many reasons.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: But the teleprompter thing…

Danielle: That was legit.

Fernanda: I’m giving him a pass.

Danielle: That was the one legit thing, to be honest! [laughs]

Fernanda: We have bigger fish to fry, when it comes to the harm this guy has done.

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah.

Fernanda: But he kind of talks about it, and I think a lot of it was that, right? Like, my impression—as somebody who, again, is not very savvy when it comes to like market subjects and everything—is that a lot of people didn’t quite understand [Danielle: “Yeah”] sort of WeWork’s bottom line and could kind of see the sort of smoke and mirrors aspect of it, but they probably felt like, “You know what? I don’t get it, but like someone must get it,” because SoftBank and Masa Son is a very [Danielle: “Yeah”] big part of this equation, ’cause if it wasn’t for him, like who knows what would’ve happened. But you look around and you see all these big business people that are so respected, and they are putting their trust behind them, so you’re like, “Well, I’m the one missing something. I’m the one who’s not really getting whatever this is at the bottom of this.”

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: And I feel like there was a lot of it, and there had to be a moment of kind of like somebody being like, “Okay, the emperor has no fucking clothes, guys.”

Danielle: Right! [laughs]

Fernanda: And I feel like Galloway– [laughs] let’s just all, like, somebody’s gotta say it. Let’s just, I’m just gonna speak what’s on everybody’s mind here. And I feel like he was very much that person with the WTF blog post that kind of talked about the– I keep forgetting the name of the document, the specific document that they need to…

Danielle: S-1 or something like that?

Fernanda: Exactly.

Danielle: I don’t remember. There was an S something.

Fernanda: I think it’s an S-1.

Danielle: I don’t know anything business either, so. Ha! But yeah.

Fernanda: So people who are listening and are like, “Oh my God, they’re being stupid,” I’m sorry. We’re not– [laughs]

Danielle: Sorry. I don’t have an MBA. I’m very sorry. [both laugh]

Fernanda: Do not understand it. But, yes, I think it was the S-1. When he kind of like exposes the document, and then he kind of opened the gates where it was like okay to publicly mock this company.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And there was also, I think…there was a thing they showed us that kind of like, the story that kind of focused on Neumann as the sort of like charismatic leader type who had a lot of problematic behaviors.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And I think those were the moments that really made everybody be like, “Okay, so I’m not the one who’s just stupid. Like, this is really…” [laughs]

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: This is just strange. This is just a strange little company with a strange deal that ended up getting a lot of lot money.

Danielle: Strange tall man. [laughs]

Fernanda: Strange tall man.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Very tall man. So it’s…to me, that aspect of it is just like very interesting.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: How much of just like collective willingness to believe is involved in making this work.

Danielle: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. And it also like fuels my rage even harder, because what if… [laughs] What if the same exact fucking business proposal was made by a woman of color? Or, you know, like…

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: Like, would, you know, would she have gotten anywhere without the fucking, the smile and the hair and the suit and the like, [Fernanda: “Yeah”] you know, being a white man of it? Like, the amount of goddamn leeway, like billions of dollars, billions and billions and billions of dollars that were given to this fucking child in a suit, right?

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: With his ideas, but that only happens for some people, and that’s enraging! Like, other people have good ideas, legitimately good ideas. Other people actually have good ideas about making the world better, too, and they’re never gonna see a billionth [laughs] of that money. And they won’t, because this is how the world works. And like, again, I just want to put my fist through the wall [Fernanda laughs] just thinking about that. Like, what if I wanted to grow Fanbyte into like some amazing business or whatever, right? I would never get the meeting with the SoftBank guy. I never would, and I’m a fucking white woman, you know?[laughs]

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I’m not even nearly dealing with this certain level of challenge there as other people are.

Fernanda: Let Elizabeth Holmes inspire you, Danielle.

Danielle: [laughs] I could be a girlboss.

Fernanda: You could be a girlboss. You can invent a machine and say that it does things that it doesn’t do.

Danielle: Yeah, right?

Fernanda: But the thing is, she got a lot more fucking screwed than Adam.

Danielle: Sure, sure, sure.

Fernanda: And I think she’s gonna do jail time. [dog barks] Guys, I’m sorry.

Danielle: And Adam never will. Oh, it’s okay. Murphy’s pissed too, and I don’t blame him.

Fernanda: [laughs] It’s not Murphy, it’s Oprah. It’s the dog we’re fostering.

Danielle: Oh, oh, Oprah! All right, it’s okay, Oprah. I’m mad too. Like, honestly?

Fernanda: She has feelings on Adam.

Danielle: Honestly, dogs have better– [Fernanda laughs] I would trust a dog more than I would trust Adam, or Rebekah for that matter. Like with a fucking toasted bagel, not $47 billion! [laughs]

Fernanda: And that’s, it’s wild. And, you know, and that’s the thing. It takes– as Lady Gaga once said, you can be in a room full of people, [both laugh] 99 people—I don’t even know if that’s number—but all it takes is one person to believe in you. Adam had like, you know, this, and it was kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? Like, oh, this millionaire guy believed in me, so other [Danielle: “Yep”] millionaire guys are gonna believe me too.

Danielle: Yep.

Fernanda: And that’s kind of how it happened. It’s really interesting, and I think also the times speak to it, because the whole idea [Danielle: “Yeah”] behind it was that it was a unicorn, right? Like, people were

[Danielle: “Yep”] hunting for the unicorn, and it was like post Uber and Amazon and everything else. And again, I feel like this is– it was just a conversion of factors, right?

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: A lot of these investors seem to have jumped in. A lot of people seem to jump into these situations for a simple matter of FOMO. [laughs] Like, you know.

Danielle: Yep.

Fernanda: Like, oh, what if I miss out on the next big thing? Like, that’s such a big element of it. And to me, that’s kind of hilarious to think about all these powerful men who control so much of the world’s wealth, and they’re all just so silly! They’re so silly!

Danielle: They’re just jealous little boys! That’s it! [Fernanda laughs] They’re just jealous little boys who want the other boy’s toy! That’s all it is, and that’s like, again, I want to laugh at it, but where I’m at today, I want to fucking put my head through the wall! [laughs] Like, I’m just like, this is insane!

Fernanda: It is.

Danielle: How is this reality? [laughs] Truly.

Fernanda: It’s really wild. It’s really wild.

Danielle: Truly.

Fernanda: And we don’t even have this sort of like, with Elizabeth Holmes, we get to have this sort of schadenfreude moment [Danielle laughs, “Right”] of somebody like, oh, she’s paying for what she did. And she arguably did less damage.

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: Well, there was one guy in her company who, uh…yeah, who, content trigger warning, [Danielle: “Ah”] did die by suicide after working at her company [Danielle: “I see”] because he was subpoenaed, and it was a whole thing.

Danielle: I see.

Fernanda: He’s actually played by Steven Fry in the show.

Danielle: Oh my God.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Wow. Okay.

Fernanda: It’s a great character, and obviously an amazing actor.

Danielle: Yeah. Yes.

Fernanda: But, so you have, obviously, and not to discount the human cost of her actions, but–

Danielle: Of course.

Fernanda: And there was a lot of like litigation against people who really didn’t have any tools to fight back and the harassment elements of it of course.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: But financially, like, I feel like Adam actually did more damage, and he was given, you know, [Danielle: “A perfect parachute”] a beautiful way out.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: You know, like he was– and that’s, I think, what infuriates people the most is that he got to have, you know, walk away with all this money and just basically, in some ways, unscathed. And I have this feeling that 10 years from now, when we’ve forgotten all about it and Adam Neumann analysis is whatever, like we’re gonna be…the content machine will have trends so much, and we’ll have been angry about so many other things that he’s just gonna do whatever he wants.

Danielle: Yep.

Fernanda: Like, let this die down, and you can come back.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: But which, conversely, I kind of find it interesting that people like Adam Neumann and Elizabeth Holmes, they’re very easy, I guess scapegoats, right, too.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: I feel like…and there’s also a very interesting aspect of it to me, that is like the reason– the way we go about these characters and the way we treat them culturally and the way that we, you know, the role that they occupy in our sort of collective imagination has a lot to do with results.

Danielle: Of course, yeah.

Fernanda: I feel like the line between, right, like a genius, you know, even as pathologically overachieving that these people may be, like, you know, there’s a reason why a guy like Steve Jobs is a genius. And I don’t know, ugh, I don’t even want to say his name, but Elon [gags] Musk.

Danielle: I know. Bleugh, bleugh, bleugh, Elon, bleugh. [both laugh]

Fernanda: He shall not be named, [Danielle laughs] who is still worshiped by many white men in our society.

Danielle: Yep.

Fernanda: You know, the reason that these people are treated like geniuses and people like Elizabeth Holmes and Adam Neumann are treated as, you know, laughing stocks.

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: And while there’s an element of, you know, in Holmes’s case, right, she had a product that– she marketed and sold a product that didn’t exist, so.

Danielle: Right. Yeah.

Fernanda: There’s that. Amazon exists, and whatever Elon Musk does with Teslas, whatever the shit, they exist. [laughs]

Danielle: Right. They do exist, yeah.

Fernanda: Apple exists.

Danielle: Yeah. It’s true.

Fernanda: They do exist, and we’re better or worse. Even freaking Zuckerberg.

Danielle: [laughs] Yeah.

Fernanda: So there’s that element of it, but also I feel like it’s interesting that we create a system and we worship a kind of person in society, and then we also want to see these people try that and fail. We also want to have– we want to have these people as icons, but we also want to be able to look down on these people.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And that really, I think, speaks to both human nature, but also like mostly the way that society is structured. It’s interesting, like on a New York Times review of the Adam Neumann book that I mentioned, Billion Dollar Loser by Reeves Wiederman, there’s this little quote that, “In America, where we moralize our money and monetize our morals, fat cats who go bust tend to be viewed as cautionary figures, singular exemplars of malfeasance, not routine casualties of the fickle system that exalted them in the first place.” And I was like, [Danielle: “Yep”] that’s true too.

Danielle: Yeah, that’s true. They’re just a symptom. It’s the, you know, hate the game not the player thing, right?

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: These are people who played the game and failed.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: But the game itself is the actual evil in our world. Like, this winner takes all unchecked capitalism is the real evil, and these are people who like tried to make it work. They were assholes, [both laugh] but also some assholes are successful, so they get away with everything. Like, it’s absolutely true. It’s completely true.

Fernanda: And there were a bunch of people behind making those things happen, right?

Danielle: Yeah. Absolutely.

Fernanda: Like, you’re gonna hate on Adam Neumann, but are you gonna hate on Masa Son?

Danielle: Right.

Fernanda: Right?

Danielle: Right, exactly.

Fernanda: Obviously different people, different thing, different context, but like, there are so many mechanisms in place that I feel like it’s convenient for all these big players that we zero in on these figures instead of being like, “Okay, but like, hold up. How did this…no. No! A lot of shit went wrong here!” So, you know, there’s this element of like scapegoating that I feel like tempers is my anger a little bit more, when it comes to hating the people specifically, that it’s like, you know what? Yeah, I hate them, but I also hate everyone else, so. [laughs]

Danielle: Yeah. I also– hate the system. Like, hate the horrible game that’s also rigged. Like, hate that too.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Like, I think it’s good to do. [laughs]

Fernanda: But one thing I wanted to ask you…

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Is something that I kind of grapple with. Do you think that Adam like was a visionary who like went too far in his vision? Or do you think he was simply like focused on money, like on his financial bottom line, and he just like pretended he believed the crap he was selling?

Danielle: Oh, that’s a really good question. Honestly, like, they keep talking about him as being such a great salesman and so charismatic and blah blah blah, that it feels almost impossible to tell, at all, whether he believes his own bullshit or not.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Like, I get the sense somewhat that he believes in some of his bullshit, [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] that there’s some, like…I mean, there’s self-belief on some side of this, right? Of like, “Oh, maybe I am gonna make a better world if I make a better business model for people renting desks.” [laughs softly]

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: He does come across as like, you know, this larger than life figure. But it is truly impossible, I think, to tell if he’s faking it or not, [Fernanda: “Yeah”] or if he truly believes his bullshit. And I guess after a certain point, he must have believed his bullshit if thousands of people are believing in his bullshit and giving him lots of money. It’s that idea of like, oh, you tell the 30-something man he’s Jesus Christ, he’ll believe it. Like, there’s…

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I think there’s evidence to support that he did believe a lot of his bullshit, but also it’s truly impossible to actually tell.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: I mean, does Rebekah believe in the bullshit or is she playing a role? Is she playing the kooky wife? Like, I don’t know! That’s also possible too, that it’s part of an act to sell something. Like, it seems like she believes her bullshit. She was in that film, right? But there might have been some degree of her playing a role too, you know, which we can’t fully discount.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: So it’s really, it’s hard. It’s hard to tell. We may never know. [laughs]

Fernanda: We may never know. I would love to see like a Rebekah specific– well, I think the show kind of serves as that.

Danielle: Sure.

Fernanda: ‘Cause in her case, I feel it’s very much like the person who grew up very comfortably in a very wealthy– ’cause her last name is actually Paltrow.

Danielle: Sure, sure, sure.

Fernanda: Like, before, her maiden name, I guess. I think that’s what she went by before she met Adam.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: So, you know, this is a rich, rich woman, living in the most like sort of privileged of conditions, but at the same time who’s living in the shadow of this last name with an uber famous cousin [Danielle: “Yeah”] who like had an Oscar by the age of whatever. Like, I believe she was in her early twenties when she got the [Danielle: “Yep”] Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, which again, a whole ‘nother, uh… [laughs]

Danielle: Whole other world with her, yep! Yep.

Fernanda: Whole other world, remember?

Danielle: God.

Fernanda: Before she was telling people to put eggs in their vaginas. But…

Danielle: Yeah, that’s her.

Fernanda: So like, she speaks to a very specific like type of like, her spiritual quest, because again, they don’t talk about this in the documentary, but she was very like into yoga and like Kabbalah in that very like, we know exactly the kind of person we’re talking about when we talk about this, right?

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: That is very much a person, like, when everything has been handed to you, like, how do you find your spiritual fulfillment? How do you feel like you serve a purpose? And I feel like that’s…

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: That’s kind of her story. In the case of Adam, I’m with you. Like I feel that it’s such a difficult thing to gauge.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: I feel like in his case, like in the case of Elizabeth Holmes or whatever, like they were people– he was a person who like wanted to be…he had this idea, like he’s part of a generation where we had this idea of success, right? He had this idea [Danielle: “Yeah”] of what, not just success, but what like a world-changing personality was, and I feel like he wanted to be that. That was first and foremost his belief, and I think that’s what he was after as a serial entrepreneur. Like, he wanted to make a lot of money. I think in the case of Elizabeth Holmes, it was more of like, I want to be the next Steve Jobs. I don’t know if that was his deal.

Danielle: Sure. Yeah.

Fernanda: But he wanted to, you know, achieve some– he wanted to be a very successful aspirational figure person. So there’s that element, then. In this case, it’s not the vision, right? It’s his ambition and his bottom line. But then at the same time, you know, he…what kind of unlocked WeWork apparently—or that’s their narrative—is Rebekah kind of being like, you know what, like, you can’t launch something to the dimensions that you want to launch. You can’t do that without believing in your product.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: So I feel like he had to buy into his own vision to have the sort of stamina [Danielle: “Yeah”] that it took to launch it and to propel it to the dimensions that it got. So I do think that eventually there has to be an element of drinking your own Kool-Aid, so to speak.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: So I think it’s kind of like a mix of like ego, sort of like entitlement, and sort of outside enabling, and just like cultural forces. Like, you’ve put that mix together onto somebody who already has like sort of narcissistic tendencies, [Danielle: “Yeah”] and that’s what comes out of it. Like the power puff girls mix, [Danielle laughs] but instead of like the cute superheroes, we get the power tripping egomaniacs.

Danielle: [laughs] I really like that. I think you nailed it. And I think it is… [sighs] All right, I know we gotta move on soon, but I do think like these sort of empowerment narrative for our generation is [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] both awful and been almost basically debunked, right?

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: Because of things like this, that like, oh yeah, you know, you grow up watching superheroes and cartoons about empowerment and doing all this awesome stuff and so on and so forth, and meanwhile, our generation really has had not the best time economically.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: I think it’s fair to say that. Things that were available perhaps to our parents’ generation are not available to us in certain ways. Obviously, that applies more to some people than others. I’m speaking very, very broadly here. But this is kind of…there are ways in which this documentary is very pointed at our generation and at [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] this desire to like find what success means and redefine success and have something about our world that isn’t going poorly.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: And it is very depressing to kind of look at this and think, “Oh, this was it? This was what was gonna be success?”

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: And then, of course, it did fall apart, ’cause it’s all fake. Right, of course.

Fernanda: Yep.

Danielle: We found out. But there’s something like very deeply troubling about that as well, like to the entire psyche of this generation, to the entire millennial experience, if you want to call it anything like that. [laughs]

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: And I guess it’s why I was fine with how corny that ending was with [Fernanda: “Yeah”] the woman who was his executive assistant like crying and talking about losing her way in a lot of ways.

Fernanda: Her purpose, yeah.

Danielle: And she’s like, “I did a lot of therapy,” and it’s like, no, but that’s…that’s real, man. Like, it is true. [laughs]

Fernanda: Yep.

Danielle: Like, we don’t have portraits of success anymore, not really. Like, we can talk about what we were talking about with, you know, he who shall not be named and the tech evangelists and so on and so forth, but really the difference between them and Adam might not actually be all that extreme. It might be the same shit. [laughs] And just luck is such a factor of it.

Fernanda: It is, absolutely.

Danielle: And here we are. You know, they believe stupid bullshit. Elon Musk believes stupid bullshit. We know that.

Fernanda: Yeah.

Danielle: Like, are they really radically different people? I don’t know.

Fernanda: No.

Danielle: And that is, again, depressing. [laughs]

Fernanda: It is depressing.

Danielle: And enraging! So yeah.

Fernanda: And like, we don’t have time, unfortunately, to get into all the aspects of it, but like, we could go into the cult aspect of it all.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Like, everything really speaks, I think, to– it’s such a good little time capsule.

Danielle: Ah, yeah.

Fernanda: And I feel like today we watched this at a very specific moment of come down from hustle culture, too.

Danielle: Sure.

Fernanda: Like, that’s our very specific lens, right?

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: Just a few years ago, the gig economy was booming, and people were like, [Danielle: “Yeah”] “Oh no, everything is possible! Hustle, hustle, hustle. We gotta work hard. I wake up at 4:30 A.M. What’s your excuse?” Whatever, whatever. And that didn’t last long, [both laugh]

Danielle: Yep.

Fernanda: The come down, economic, like happily accelerated by obviously the pandemic, I feel like has really turned that on its head.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: And we are really at a point where people our age are kind of like, what are we even working for? Like, we’re not working– we might be working toward a planet that might not exist in a few years.

Danielle: Yep.

Fernanda: And we don’t really– and like you were saying, like we’re kind of lost in terms of what success really means.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: So, to me, that’s an even more interesting moment to watch this kind of phenomenon now. I feel like it could only have existed in a very specific moment in time.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: You know, like, that to me is just one of the many, many interesting aspects of the story.

Danielle: Yeah. I totally agree. If we had longer, we could go more into cult month, but you know.

Fernanda: Oh.

Danielle: We had our cult month, and– [laughs] but it was interesting how this definitely had a lot of connective tissue there.

Fernanda: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: I know we are needing to go on soon. I think we need to move on to Shelf Life, unless there’s any other pressing matters before we decide where this goes on our shelves.

Fernanda: No, I feel like we…like I said, I feel like we…

Danielle: Crushed it! [laughs]

Fernanda: We crushed it. We! Work! We! Work!

Danielle: We did it!

Fernanda: Gonna chug some kombucha right now. [Danielle laughs] I’m gonna make somebody make me a cappuccino and tell me it’s a latte, just because.

Danielle: Ugh!

Fernanda: Just because I can, okay?

Danielle: Right? [laughs]

Fernanda: They didn’t even get into the tequila aspect of it all, ‘cause Adam apparently [Danielle: “Oh, God”] was very into tequila, and there was a lot of tequila happening.

Danielle: Oh.

Fernanda: But no, I feel like we– between this and what we discussed on cult month, I feel like [Danielle: “Yeah”] our wonderful, beautiful listeners can go on their own like little little mind tangents about this particular movie.

Danielle: Yeah! Yeah. They know our mind palaces well enough at this point, I feel like. [laughs] Awesome. Well, in that case, we’re moving into our final segment, which is Shelf Life, where we decide where the movie belongs in our video store. If it’s a bonafide staff pick, displayed proudly. A middle aisle placement, which again, totally good movies can go in the middle aisle. There’s a whole spectrum. You know, there’s like top of the middle aisle where really good things can go. Or if this deuce needs the dumpster out back. Fernanda, I’m gonna let you start. Where do you feel this documentary belongs in our video store?

Fernanda: I feel like it’s a totally textbook middle aisle.

Danielle: Yeah, yeah.

Fernanda: Where competent movies belong. It doesn’t really…it’s not gonna change your world. It’s a good introduction to the theme. It covers some bases. It has some nice little voices. It tells a neat little story. Not that long.

Danielle: Yeah.

Fernanda: So I feel like– yeah, it’s like 1 hour 40 tops?

Danielle: Yeah, something like that.

Fernanda: An hour 30? Between one hour and…

Danielle: It’s pretty breezy. Yeah, it moves.

Fernanda: Yeah, pretty breezy, pretty chill. It moves, like you said. So I would, yeah, just a totally…totally like easy middle aisle for me.

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. I have to agree. I think it’s perfect middle aisle material. I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it again, but maybe I will if I need to be angry again. [both laugh] Again, not at the filmmakers. I want to be so clear, not angry at the filmmakers. I think they did a good job. Angry at the phenomenon, angry at the world of late capitalism and the fact that this shit exists [Fernanda: “Yeah”] and runs wild and other people have nothing and people like this can have whatever the fuck they want. It’s…annoying! [laughs] But middle aisle for this well made documentary, and…awesome. Well, that was easy to put it on the shelf here.

I’m gonna go ahead and do the cool outro. That’s what we have for you this week, dear listeners. Thank you to my wonderful co-host for joining me. Thank you at home for listening, and thank you to our fantastic producer, Jordan Mallory! Jordan, thank you for producing the show.

Fernanda: Woo!

Danielle: You’re allowed to have a nickname if you want, but we’re not gonna push you too hard. You know, you can have one if you want, and otherwise it’s okay. [laughs] If you are, you know, tired of just listening to us and want to say some stuff too, well that’s just dandy, because it so happens we would love to hear from you. If you’d like to get in touch, head over to our Discord at fanbyte.casa, or you can send us an email at YLTSI– that’s You Love to See It, so YLTSI@fanbyte.com. Send us your reviews, recommendations, questions, any general feedback, and maybe we’ll even read it on the show. We’d really appreciate it.

And Jordan also did pick a nickname for himself, so we’ve got Jordan “The Crumbler” Mallory. [both laugh] Very good, Jordan! Extremely good. I like it. Ah. All right, dear listeners, if you do like the work we do and want to show us some support, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or rate us on Spotify. It goes a long way in helping us out and helping other people discover our pod. And you can find links to our other podcasts, our Discord—which of course is fanbyte.casa—and our socials in the show notes! Until next time, you love to see it.