Jul 20, 2021 - Business
Inside a Macalester College grad's juicy WeWork exposé
A headshot of Macalester College grad and Wall Street Journal reporter Eliot Brown.
Macalester grad's new WeWork book comes out Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House

WeWork operates three coworking offices in Minneapolis and if you've ever been to one, you know they're hip, buzzing and full of entrepreneurs.

  • But there's a heck of a backstory to the company that grew from a small startup to a massive real estate firm in a decade, before a failed IPO shook CEO Adam Neumann from his perch.

What's new: Macalester College grad and Wall Street Journal reporter Eliot Brown's new book "The Cult of We," about Neumann was released this morning. He wrote it with fellow reporter Maureen Farrell.

  • Read an Axios exclusive excerpt here.

Context: Brown and Farrell, in their deeply sourced book, tell the story of the egocentric founder, who was known for early morning tequila shots, smoking pot in professional settings and throwing wild company parties.

  • It's a cautionary tale about what happens when a founder who can barely use a computer convinces some of the world's biggest investors that he created a tech company that would change the world — even though he couldn't turn a profit.
  • "At its basic level, it's just the story of too much money chasing too few good ideas," Brown told Nick.

Local angle: Brown is from Massachusetts, but came to St. Paul to attend Macalester, where he ran cross country and track and field.

  • He got injured and with his newfound free time away from athletics, he joined the college newspaper Mac Weekly. He later interned at City Pages, and eventually worked his way up to WSJ.

Nick's take: Having covered real estate for several years, this is a fascinating and authoritative book. But it's also an informative and entertaining read for a general audience.


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