Millennial-scammer stories - a sort-of pop-up new genre – are making good fodder for film and television.
In these based-on-real-life tales, they scam each other, their parents, their friends, venture capitalists, investment lawyers, neighbours, real estate agents, gullible socialites…anyone really…and it makes for some often arresting viewing.
In 2017, fraudsters extracted $US27 million from investors for their bogus Fyre Festival in the Bahamas and subsequently appeared in two documentaries Fyre Fraudand Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened and the TV series American Greed.
The Millennial Silicon Valley bio-tech scammer from 2015, Elizabeth Holmes, became the subject of both a documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley and a TV series The Dropout.
|Julia Garner, Inventing Anna|
Socialite scammer Anna Sorokin/Anna Delvey who pretended to be a wealthy German heiress between 2013-2017 had the TV series Inventing Anna based on her frauds and she is currently working on her own documentary series (about herself) while still in custody.
And following the documentary WeWork or the making and breaking of a $47 billion Unicorn, Adam Neumann, the WeWork co-founder from 2010, can now watch Jared Leto playing him in WeCrashed.
Leto, whose shape-shifting capabilities are at a Tilda Swinton level, was unrecognizable in his previous outing, House of Gucci.But in WeCrashed he looks just like Jared Leto, although at 50-years-of-age, he quite remarkably has no problem convincing audiences he is a Millennial.
Leto gives an exuberant performance as this hustler-of-shared-office-work-spaces who transforms his business into a solutions-for-your-entire-life (“elevate the world’s consciousness”). WeWork was inexplicably valued at $47 billion before crashing to $10 billion when someone got a look at the books.
Leto is more than matched by Anne Hathaway as his wife Rebekah, an equally deluded New Age scammer who even starts WeGrow, a school for uncomprehending toddlers being taught how to be entrepreneurs. She has plenty of screen-time and arguably gives her character more nuance and depth than the often-cartoonish Newmann.
Among the supporting cast there’s none better than Kim Eui-sung playing Masayoshi Son, founder of the hugely successful Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank. He enters the WeWork orbit after having made billions and just after he has established a $98 billion tech-venture-capital-fund with a $65 billion principal investment from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund (hello, Greg Norman!).
His modus operandi is to say little, be difficult to reach, break appointment after appointment, say little again, then call unexpectedly for a quick tour of the WeWork lobby, followed by 10 minutes in a limousine before coughing up a $4.4 billion investment.
Due diligence apparently is a pre-tech, old-world concept.
SoftBank eventually invested over $10 billion of “easy money” in WeWork and after the company blazingly crashed on the financial markets – described by The New York Times as “an implosion unlike any other in the history of start-ups” – the Japanese company was forced to write-down most of its investment ($9.2 billion).
Like the Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Sorokin series, WeCrashed has little to say about what this all means. What are the implications beyond watching a lot of people with money to burn invest in people who do little else but burn it?
You are left slightly empty. Is schadenfreude not enough?