WeCrashed Scene: Sustaining Spirit in Startups

An uplifting scene about not pandering to corporate traditions and invigorating a business with life

Robert Gibb
5 min readMay 13, 2022

Series Description

WeCrashed is a mini series about the founding, growth, and downfall of the commercial real estate company WeWork, once the second most valuable private company of all time.

At the heart of the WeWork story told in WeCrashed is the founder, Adam Neumann, and his wife, Rebekah. Adam’s infinite vision for the company and Rebekah’s romantic outlook on business values are constantly challenged by the corporate world throughout the show. To overcome doubt and limiting beliefs of those around them, they find ways to return to the mission of the company: to elevate the world’s consciousness.

The concept of making a positive spiritual impact in the world with a business that’s not directly connected to spirituality is innovative and why I was inspired by Adam and Rebekah when watching this show. Their characters in the show are nuts and egotistical at times but they never lose hope in sustaining spirit as WeWork grows.

Scene Description

My favorite scene in WeCrashed shows Adam and Rebekah returning to the essence of WeWork in the wake of “lifeless” formalities. They are frustrated by the robotic quality of the S-1 document that’s needed to take their company public and decide to replace legal speak with words of passion that align with the company’s mission. To tap into the spirit of WeWork and discover new words, they throw papers, center themselves, and strike a gong inside the WeWork headquarters.

Scene Clip

The scene starts at 32:11 in Episode 7 and ends at 35:32. You can watch this scene by subscribing to Apple TV+. There is currently no official clip on YouTube but part of the scene is published on E News.

Scene Script

This is my fan version of the script. I wrote it to connect with the scene on another level and practice screenwriting.

INT. WEWORK HQ LOBBY - DAYRebekah exits her office at the top of the stairs, cradling the stack of S-1 filings from other companies. We see Adam on a couch below reviewing some papers. She walks down.Now, standing in front of him...REBEKAH
You were right.
She raises the S-1 filings for him to see. They become flimsy in the air.REBEKAH
They’re useless. Lifeless.
She slaps them down on another paper stack nearby. Frustrated.ADAM
Dead things.
She needs to sit down.REBEKAH
It reminded me of why I hated working on Wall Street.
She recovers.REBEKAH
What’s that?
These. More dead things from the lawyers. Take a look.
He hands her his papers.REBEKAH
Risk factors? One: Our rapid growth might not be sustainable. Two: We have a history of losses and if we continue to grow at an accelerated rate we may be unable to achieve profitability for the foreseeable future.
And? The number three. Small men...
He stands and takes papers from the stack.ADAM
He WHIPS them into the air.ADAM
From fear!
He sends more FLYING out.Rebekah follows.REBEKAH
And we!
Are not!
She sends more FLYING out.REBEKAH
They turn toward each other, on the edge of epiphany.ADAM
No! And we proceed from hope. From creativity. Imagination. And—
He places his hand over his heart.ADAM
From love.
He presents his open hand to her. Their connection is returning.REBEKAH
She moves closer to Adam and points with both hands at his heart.REBEKAH
So how do we capture that?
Creation began with a word, right?
So what are our words?
He moves toward the gong.ADAM
Come. Come, come, come, come, come.
He positions the gong center with the stairwell. Rebekah removes her jacket and throws it to the side.He hands her a mallet and picks up his own. They stand at opposite ends of the gong, facing each other.He inhales deeply. They close their eyes.ADAMThe word...They put their hands in prayer pose. We hold here.Adam’s eyes flash open.ADAM
He SMASHES the gong with the mallet and it makes a CRASHING sound that fills the room. Rebekah laughs, nearly keeling over with joy.Adam waves his mallet in the air, celebrating.Rebekah raises her hands. Something is coming to her like in an epic game of Charades.REBEKAH
She SMASHES the gong. Another CRASH fills the room. She jumps up and down. The joy flows through her unfiltered.ADAM
Spiritual growth!
SMASH and CRASH.The words pour out of them now.REBEKAH
(even louder)
(the loudest)
She SMASHES the gong a final time with everything she hopes for.ADAM
Adam sees Rebekah as she is. Speechless. The vibration of the gong seals the space between them.ADAM
I am nothing without you.
They embrace and kiss.

Scene Meaning

The meaning of this scene is to not pander to people in positions of power or submit to traditional ways of doing business if they are not aligned with a mission that is positive in nature and responsible for making a company successful. You must find ways to uphold the spirit of a company’s mission during times of difficulty.

To do this, you must seek to understand the point of view of people in positions of power and traditional ways of doing business. Adam and Rebekah do this by reviewing the S-1s of companies with successful IPOs. Then, you must create space for something better. Adam and Rebekah do this by centering themselves in the heart of the WeWork headquarters.

Although Adam’s and Rebekah’s plan to revitalize the S-1 document is not successful from a business perspective, the intention of their actions is good. This is what matters. This is why WeWork became WeWork and revolutionized what community meant for coworking.

Scene Lift

I first watched this scene during a challenging time in my career as a content marketer for a high-growth tech startup. After joining as an early employee, I published informal, disruptive content that helped us attract iconic investors, well-known customers, and top talent. But, as the company grew, so did formalities.

A new “corporate marketing” function was created that my team dissolved into. I challenged the formalities that came with this new function and wider company growth. This ultimately fell flat and the only things that lifted me up were this scene from WeCrashed and my friends and family. I experienced how rapid startup growth could make good people seem ugly and make a successful company seem sour.

Was I crazy to think that “consciousness, growth, intention, positivity, meaning, and hope” had a place in high-growth business? No. But this was no longer the place to advocate for those things so I decided to leave. True growth over topical business growth is what matters in the end and it’s worth advocating for. No matter what. This scene confirms that. You can feel it.

Scene Notes

  • You can get a sense of the real Adam and Rebekah in this interview.
  • The soundtrack for this series helps make this scene powerful. You can listen to it on Spotify or YouTube.
  • The director of this scene, Tinge Krishnan, directed three episodes for the HBO series Industry. This series has atmospheric tones like WeCrashed.