How WeWork Burned Billions Of Dollars And Imploded : Planet Money : The Indicator from Planet Money WeWork was one of the most valuable startups in the world, until it wasn't. Today we speak with journalist Maureen Farrell, who covered WeWork extensively and recently wrote a book on its history.

The Rise And Fall Of WeWork

The Rise And Fall Of WeWork

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At its height, WeWork was valued at 47 billion dollars. It was one of the most valuable startups in the world, also known as unicorns. Despite investors giving billions of dollars to the company, its plan to go public in 2019 fell apart in a spectacular fashion. Still, Adam Neumann, the founder and ex-CEO, walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars.

Maureen Farrell is a journalist covering finance and IPOs for the Wall Street Journal and also the co-author of The Cult Of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and The Great Startup Delusion. She says several reasons contribute to the complicated story of WeWork. Neumann's charisma and salesmanship attracted investors left and right, to the point of some investing just to not miss out on the next big thing. In addition, no responsible party stepped up to remove Neumann and the management team, even though red flags existed everywhere. For example, before the company filed to go public, Neumann already cashed out hundreds of millions of dollars, something founders seldomly do.

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