WeWork co-founder and fallen CEO Adam Neumann said Jared Leto advised him not to watch the upcoming Apple TV+ miniseries WeCrashed where the actor plays the former high-flying executive whose company crashed in 2019 before being resurrected in a SPAC-led IPO last month. (Separately, lawyers for the much-dramatized Neumann convinced HBO to tweak some wording around him for an episode of its upcoming miniseries Generation Hustle.)
“He is putting prosthetics on to really look like me,” Neumann said of Leto on Tuesday at The New York Times DealBook Online Summit.
“Are you going to watch it?” asked host Andrew Ross Sorkin.
“He told me not to.”
“He told you not to?”
“He suggested not to.”
“So you spent time with him?”
“Just one time,” said Neumann. “When someone tells you, ‘I am going to act you, and you shouldn’t watch it…” he trailed off, before addressing what he called a bigger issue.
“What happened in the world that we can take a person, look exactly like them, put on prosthetics, put their wife and kids in a show and then do a show on a … single-sided narrative that I am telling you is not actually true in a lot of things. And actually do a show that profits from it? I think back in the day you were not allowed to do this. And I know public figures, you can do. But you use their face, use their name and tell a false story?”
WeWork became a household name last decade as a cool and flexible leased alternative to traditional corporate offices, expanding rapidly around the globe and nabbing an investment from giant SoftBank that valued it at $47 billion. Plans for an August 2019 IPO, however, collapsed along with Neumann’s reputation after an SEC filing revealed WeWork was deep in the red and risked running out of cash, leading to a major restructuring with 3,000 layoffs and an investigation by the New York State Attorney General.
Neumann stepped down and gave up his voting rights as the company’s private market valuation plunged. He has always denied any financial impropriety or illegality but said that in hindsight he would have made some different choices. Responding to questions about reported drug use and partying, he said, weed was the only drug he ever saw but acknowledged “we had a fun culture.”
WeWork’s market cap is currently $7.7 billion and Neuman noted that while Covid was devastating for the business it may be well positioned now as corporations reassess their need for fixed office space.