Thursday, October 28, 2021

HBO Max Alters ‘Generation Hustle’ Blurbs On Ex-WeWorks CEO Adam Neumann – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: With a revamped WeWork poised to hit Wall Street with a multi-billion dollar IPO in just over a week, the former CEO of the once highly hyped startups workspace company has already made a killing of at HBO Max.

Booted from his top gig in September 2019 with a $1.7 billion parachute just before the company pulled its first planned IPO, WeWork co-founder Adam Neaumann has received a poignant re-evaluation of sorts from the WarnerMedia-owned streamer’s Generation Hustle.

Still having the tagline of “Is WeWork founder Adam Neumann a brilliant salesman or a false prophet who convinced an entire generation to follow him to the promised land?” the 46-minute second episode of the April 22 launching docuseries EP’d by Angie Day and Yon Motskin has made some pivotal changes after getting an informative correspondence or two from the well-documented ex-exec’s lawyers earlier this year, if you know what I mean?

Whereas the damning WeWork episode once ended with a slate card that read:

Federal and state investigators are looking into Adam’s business dealings.
Adam returned $5.9 million for the “We” trademark.
But he may still walk away with $1 billion.

It now says:

Federal and state investigators are looking into Adam’s business dealings. No criminal or regulatory charges have been filed
Adam returned $5.9 million for the “We” trademark.
But he may still walk away with $1 billion.

Also, the subsequent card used to say:

Today WeWork is worth a fraction of its peak value.
Adam, Rebekah, Miguel and their inner circle are gone.
So are all their side projects
They declined to talk to us.

As of late last week, it now says this:

In March 2021, WeWork announced plans to go public again at a proposed valuation of $9 billion.
Adam, Rebekah, Miguel and their inner circle are gone.
So are all their side projects
They declined to talk to us.

Full of notions that the company was a cult, accusations of manipulation, Congressional hearings, armchair psychiatry and the reality of over 3,000 staffers being laid off in the fall of 2019, the packed WeWork episode is the only one in the 10-episode series where the subject matter hasn’t been charged or accuse of breaking an actual law or, in many cases, served time.

A reality that gains traction in the description of Generation Hustle on the HBO Max site used to say:

How far would you go for power, fame and fortune? Generation Hustle features outrageous and high-stakes new stories about brilliant and brazen young individuals, some of whom go too far by pulling off the most wildly inventive scams of our time.

Combining true-crime capers with fresh, glossy stories of charismatic fakes, colorful imposters, and unabashed ambition, this shocking and sometimes comic docuseries explores the no-holds-barred quest for riches and status in the age of social media.

Generation Hustle now has a distinctly different definition:

How far would you go for power, fame and fortune? Generation Hustle features outrageous and high-stakes new stories about brilliant and brazen young individuals, some of whom go too far by pulling off the most wildly inventive scams of our time.

Showcasing ripped-from-the-headlines stories of unabashed ambition, this shocking and sometimes comic docuseries explores the noholds- barred quest for riches and status in the age of social media.

“HBO did the right thing here by promptly retracting these false implications about Adam and the history of WeWork, and we applaud the network for taking these responsible steps,” Thomas A. Clare, the defamation attorney for Neumann, told Deadline today.  “The media has repeatedly gotten the story of WeWork wrong, and we hope these responsible steps by a reputable outlet will help put an end to the mischaracterizations of Adam’s successful role in creating a transformational business.”

Claire indicated that other outlets such as Forbes and Bloomberg would be revising characterizations of Neumann in pieces of theirs too.

HBO had no comment on the changes when contacted by Deadline on Monday.

However, it should be noted that none of the filmed content of the WeWork episode of Generation Hustle was altered since the docuseries hit the streamer in the spring. Additionally, in what looks to be a first for HBO/HBO Max, it should be noted, none of the other nine episodes of Generation Hustle saw their slate cards altered as the WeWork one was.

And the timing is kind of perfect for WeWorks, even if not so much for HBO/HBO Max

Two years after imploding and scrapping its previous plan to go public, WeWork plans to have its IPO on October 21 via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company. The current valuation is pegged at $9 billion — not even one-fifth the astronomical $47 billion on paper in 2019.

With Neaumann still a presence on the WeWork board, the notion of a comeback by a company with a worse rep than the Fyre Festival once seemed inconceivable. But then came the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. Months of lockdowns upended the business world’s calculations about real estate, and the widespread embrace of Zoom and a retreat from in-person requirements enabled WeWork to pitch itself as a solution to companies seeking flexibility. There have been a lot of takers.

At an investor presentation last week, the company said it hit a year-to-date high with revenue of $228 million in September, the fifth straight period of month-to-month growth. Total occupancy hit 60% at the end of September, up from 52% at the end of June. Including tenants under contract to move in, occupancy is at 64%.

Today’s management team and slate of financial backers looks a lot different than the version of the company Neumann ran. The current WeWork CEO, Sandeep Mathrani, is an Indian-American veteran of the real estate sector, who previously ran Brookfield Properties’ retail business and held senior roles at major real estate firms Vornado and Forest City Ratner.

SoftBank had been the largest shareholder in WeWork, but is still feuding with Neumann over its stake. The current iteration of the company includes $483 million from Vivek Ranadivé, the Indian software tycoon who owns the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Insight Partners has kicked in another $800 million and other backers include Starwood Capital, Fidelity Management, Centaurus Capital and BlackRock.

At the investor presentation, none of Mathrani’s behavior suggested a new round of forthcoming books or movies based on WeWork. Instead, the mission is to simply cash in on a rising opportunity in commercial real estate. “In the pre-pandemic world, flex was part of an office offering,” Mathrani told investors. “In a post-pandemic world, flex is its own channel of distribution.”

This article originally appeared on deadline.com Source link Author Dominic Patten on date 2021-10-11 22:03:47

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