How WeWork’s Adam Neumann made a pigeon look like a swan

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Natasha took a trip down memory lane to the great WeWork saga. We had WSJ reporter and author Eliot Brown on the show to chat about his new book, “The Cult of We,” written with his colleague Maureen Farrell. You can snag it here if you haven’t already.

Brown and Farrell were key reporting voices during WeWork’s rise and fall, covering the company’s growth, hijinks and demise.

Recently, WeWork has filed to go public via a SPAC, bringing the co-working startup to the public markets years after it initially tried for an IPO. It will debut at a fraction of the value that it once commanded on the private markets.

While we had Brown on the show, we took the time to dive into how he handled reporting the WeWork story, what his take is on today’s startup market, and how the tech media in general can do a better job. It felt like a masterclass for journalists and founders alike, which we’d argue is Equity’s sweet spot.

What lessons can we take away from WeWork’s rise and fall? At a very basic level, that companies with slim gross margins are not software companies and should not be valued as such. And that allowing founders to have monarchical control of their company goes against historical norms of good corporate governance, which isn’t so smart.

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