A night out with WeWork
A cynic might say that last night’s WeWork Creator Awards (first in London, fourth in total) was a splashy, flashy photo-op fest of profligate magnitude. Our rent ain’t cheap and – like all killjoys – you might look at the size of the free-pour bar and think ‘huh, that’s where my dollar dollar is going to?!’. It’s all vibe, big-up, and staged whooping…
…and do you know what? I loved it.
Because, deep down, I’m not a cynic. And I want to believe – scratch that – I DO believe that WeWork’s philosophy IS more than just a thinly veiled layer of community spirit, spread on the toast of a ginormous global valuation of nearly $20billion. Not bad for an office space rental company.
The Creator Awards offer a platform for entrepreneurs to bid for cash. And WeWork doesn’t ask people to play for peanuts – tens of thousands of pounds were dolled out in the 45 minutes we stayed for the ceremony. By the time I was tucked up in bed, it would have been over a million.
To be frank, the tone was set for me at the end of a (possibly less interesting than it could have been) discussion with Grace Dent (yes, she of the excoriating ES reviews. I love her). A £10K grant was casually dolled out to a young lad who’d come to the UK two years ago as a refugee, nudged his way into an apprenticeship to a Michelin starred restaurant and was there on the stage just chatting in a mash up of Albanian Bristolian. There was weeping.
The awards ceremony was kicked off by a rousing speech by (co-founder) Adam Neumann. All leather jacket and high top black Converse (at least it wasn’t a hoody, jeans and sliders). I tried SO hard to be sniffy and sarcastic but I couldn’t be. It’s easy to imagine that he goes home after work and mashes kittens into marmite – but it’s more likely that he is genuinely enthused, imaginative, grafting and gosh-darn impressive in a visionary way. He’s also a bit of a dish, which might help.
The award recipients (more than 30 of them to my count) were all doing incredible things – though it’s very possible that the one I’ll be trying to actually use is the HotTug (a floating hot tub!). I will put out there that it’s all very well celebrating environmental initiatives – but, from what we’ve seen, WeWork’s own environmental policy appears to be pretty atrocious (a subject for another day).
As I write this, it’s the morning after the night before. I’m here at work early but it’s true what they say here at WeWork; you should ‘love what you do’. I DO love what I do. I love where I do it. And I don’t care how schmaltzy it sounds, I love being a tiny part of this network and this community. Do you know what? I’m that enamoured, I’ll even go as far as to say that ‘We’ are family.
Here’s to all those creators who will wake up this morning with thousands of pounds to spend. I reckon they deserve it.