‘WeCrashed’ follows the tumultuous story of WeWork, detailing the inception of the shared workspace company co-founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey and its disastrous attempt at an IPO in 2019. While the show focuses on the excesses and often bizarre claims of Adam and his wife, Rebekah, a few hints are also given about the effect of such chaotic leadership on the company’s employees.
The series finale puts the employees’ pains in perspective, depicting a grim state of affairs. Considering much of the show draws from real life, we decided to see what actually happened to the employees of WeWork after Adam Neumann’s left the company.
What Happened to WeWork Employees?
Shortly after releasing its prospectus in preparation for its 2019 IPO, WeWork came under severe scrutiny for its unsustainable finances and company culture driven by Adam Neumann. The co-founder subsequently stepped down as CEO, but the shared workspace company’s problems were far from over. According to reports, the company’s valuation, from a high of $47 billion, came as low as $5 billion in September 2019. The subsequent COVID-19 pandemic also led to losses.
Therefore, a strict regimen of cost-cutting was put in place, which included the sale of many of WeWork’s subsidiaries which had been acquired over the years. Meetup, a company that facilitates in-person interactions through events, had been acquired in 2017. In 2019, about 25% of its workforce, mostly from the engineering department (according to sources), was laid off. Another subsidiary, Flatiron School, also laid off dozens of employees.
Former employees of WeWork also revealed how they were promised that the company would become extremely profitable after the 2019 IPO (which ultimately failed). Instead, many of them lost their jobs. Adam Neumann acknowledged feeling “disappointed” for the workers that took lower pay or stock options because they believed in the company. On the matter, the co-founder stated that every start-up has risks, and he never intended for the company not to succeed. However, since Adam walked away from WeWork with a deal worth about $1.7 billion, the former employees understandably feel like they were treated unfairly.
One type of severance package offered to laid-off WeWork employees included three months of “garden leave,” which includes pay and benefits without having to come into work, and one month of severance pay. However, they were also seemingly made to sign disclaimers not to sue the company over workplace issues and agree to non-compete clauses as well.
How Many WeWork Employees Were Laid Off?
A press release from March 26, 2021, by WeWork, stated — “The company also exited all of its non-core ventures and streamlined headcount by 67% from its peak in September 2019.” According to estimates based on the company’s workforce of about 12,500 in June 2019, this means about 8,300 employees were laid off. The press release also mentioned a second attempt to go public. Ultimately, WeWork did go public on October 21, 2021, and presently has over seven hundred locations worldwide.