I love reading about businesses and finance, I remember doing a full-on nerd dive into a 600+ page book on the life of Goldman Sachs bank…for fun, so when I saw this one pop up I knew it would be right up my street.
I’d heard of WeWork and its co-founder Adam Neumann, and I knew a little of what the company was about and its fall from grace, but I went in with very little background information. I cannot stress this enough; Brown and Farrell have written probably one of the best books of this type that I have ever read.
Synopsis via Goodreads
Sometimes, whilst I enjoy the topic, the content and writing can be a bit dry and to be fair that is sort of expected with non-fiction but this one? It reels you in from the start and it is so well written, combining backstories of the main characters, explanations of more industry specific items that a reader may not be well-versed in and all the key details in the company’s journey. Normally if I’m reading non-fiction I’ll also read a fiction book alongside it but I didn’t do that with this one because the story, and especially the writing that was laying it all out on the page, was just that good!
I will definitely be picking up anything else they write, together or individually, because this was so worth the read!
The rest of this review contains content that some may consider to be spoilers, so proceed with caution!
There was something about Neumann that gave me Donald Trump vibes. He isn’t rooted in reality, his has big dreams and ideas but nothing to back them up with, essentially, he’s a big bulls***er that can talk a good game and wrack up mountains of debt at the same time, all whilst constantly wanting more, more more and not understanding what people’s concerns may be. He’s only interested in himself, his power and fortune and less interested in the company he has built. Every deal must shore up his own personal gains and not put the business first. He’s also surrounded by people that refuse to tell him no, either because they don’t want to be pushed out, their scared of him or they’re buying in to everything he’s selling. Sounds a lot like someone else we know….And like the book title suggests, it sounds a lot like a cult, especially when everyone talks about his personality and charisma.
It also highlights so many issues within Silicone Valley, which I couldn’t even begin to list, but were so interesting to read about. What was most interesting, and off putting, was knowing that an (almost) international paraiah in MBS was behind so much of the investment money flowing into the businesses in the area, and that these business leaders seemed to look the other way, for the most part, on his heinous crimes, putting their and their company’s profits ahead of human rights and you know, not associating with criminals that were murdering people over free speech?