Filming the movie WeCrashed in which she plays Rebekah Neumann, Anne Hathaway’s dress is simply vibrant. The red, golden summer tones of the flowing gown is hippy chic and Hathaway’s hair, worn flowing and straight, compliments the mock carefree look.
It’s a dress that makes me think, “Hmmm, maybe Neumann was not such a bad guy after all. Elizabeth Holmes should use her stylist.” WeCrashed is about the workspace start up We Work that got so big so fast it exploded, thanks to founder Adam Neumann. Hathaway plays Neumann’s wife Rebekah, who is equally insufferable, as WeWork’s Chief Brand and Impact Officer. Even in still photos, you can see that Hathaway is emphasizing her character’s artificiality and superficial values, in the way she poses, rather than exists.
Of course, Rebekah studied Buddhism and yoga, so her gestures also represent meditation and relaxation techniques, but they speak of a distance between the woman and the world around her, which helps illustrate how she and Adam lost their sense of perspective. Enterprises that seem too big to fail rarely are. We’ve seen crazy expansion from nascent companies before. Starbucks comes to mind, but they usually aren’t run with the greed and arrogance that fueled WeWork’s downfall. As WeWork’s revenue shot up to $1.8 billion, it’s losses also rocketed to $1.6 billion. While crisis loomed, Adam Neumann used his stock as security to take out a $500 million personal loan, just before WeWork’s scheduled IPO.
Oh, and he also accepted $6 million from the company for the trademark “We,” which money he was shamed into returning. But if Adam could somehow get Apple TV to pay him millions to use the term “We” in the series title, such a coup would make up for all of his past failings.
As for Rebekah, as a brand officer you have to admit that her accomplishments endure. The communal office environment that WeWork made famous has spread to traditional businesses. I’ve seen companies evict their executives from offices (with actual walls and doors for privacy) and make them sit out in the open with their subordinates, to foster mingling and teamwork. Thank the WeWork branding for the new and annoying open office design and for the cold fruit water service. Yum.