Japanese investor SoftBank had high hopes for returns in the second quarter of the year with one of its biggest investments, coworking giant WeWork, eyeing public listing. But when in August 2019, the company filed its initial draft papers, things went south. By October 2019, the investor was bailing out cofounder Adam Neumann and company from falling off the grid and took a negative spiral on its financials as well.
The saga of these few months and the high paced growth of WeWork is now going to be a television drama. Hollywood Reporter, on Wednesday (December 11), said that Nicholas Braun, of the hit HBO series ‘Succession’, will be playing Adam Neumann in the upcoming limited television series.
The series will reportedly be based on an upcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell. The book will be published by Penguin Random House imprint Crown. Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content have acquired TV rights for the same.
The future is We. https://t.co/mcp3Mtqe7R
— Nicholas Braun (@nicholasbraun) December 11, 2019
However, it is not confirmed which cable network will be chosen for the show. The story will “chronicle the rise and comedown of the nearly $50 Bn startup, which took off like Uber and AirBnB only to see it crash following an attempted IPO amid questions about its business model and the role of founders.”
Surprisingly enough, this is not the first attempt to bring WeWork saga on reel. Prior to this, reports had already surfaced about a feature film by Blumhouse Productions on an upcoming book by the Fast Company’s Katrina Booker on WeWork. Also, the production company Campfire in collaboration with Business Insider is working on a documentary on WeWork.
From being a major success story of the SoftBank portfolio, WeWork has become a poster child for overvaluation and the issues with corporate governance. After announcing Q2 results, which were poorly impacted due to WeWork bailout, SoftBank group chief Masayoshi Son said, “This is the biggest quarterly loss we have seen since our founding. My investment decisions were in many ways poor. I regret them deeply.”
SoftBank had given a $9.5 Bn bailout to the company and finally bid adieu to founder and ex-CEO Adam Neumann after paying $1.7 Bn to him. And now the investor said it would have to “right-size” its business to reach profitability and that would include job cuts.
Son said that the firm was not a “sinking ship”, but acknowledged he had “learned a lot” from the turmoil. “I want to make it clear. Firms that accept SoftBank’s investments must be self-sustaining. We do not make investments for the purpose of rescuing companies. Regarding WeWork… This will remain an exception. I want to make it clear,” he added.
After Uber and Slack’s outrageous performances in the public market and WeWork even failing to make it public, the onus of profitability, strong business ethics and better investment decisions have come down on SoftBank and its portfolio companies.