Too White To Catch: NYU Professor Says WeWork Is Like Theranos Fraud

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Yogababble
Illustration by Autumn Keiko

“Yogababble.” It’s a term coined by Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, reported Business Insider. It means “spiritual-sounding language used by companies to sell or make their brand more compelling on an emotional level.” And it’s a term Galloway applies to both Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos and Adam Neumann of WeWork, respectively.

According to Galloway, the stories of the disgraced, former superstar CEOs run parallel. Holmes will go to trial to face fraud charges next year and Neumann’s board voted (with him casting a vote against himself) to fire him. Both captured the hearts – and money – of multitudes with their words, but failed to substantiate their claims through their work.

In a post on his No Mercy/No Malice blog, Galloway used history, sarcasm and dry humor to explain how some of the world’s most brilliant minds were hoodwinked and bamboozled by the Theranos and WeWork’s founders’ charm.

“The boards of Theranos and WeWork included former and future Secretaries of Defense, Supreme Allied Commanders, and billionaire CEOs of iconic firms. These individuals can assess geopolitical markers, troop movements, and business trends better than anybody on the planet, maybe in history. But put a young woman from Stanford in a black turtleneck, or a guy with great hair, in the same room, and these global leaders couldn’t recognize blatant fraud,” Galloway wrote.

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Galloway said Holmes and Neumann both overpromised and underdelivered and faked it until they made it to raise insane amounts of money to fund companies that were not equipped to live up to their commitments. Their lack of skill, ability and innovation should have been obvious, he wrote. BUT PEOPLE – EVEN VERY NOTABLE LEADERS – BELIEVED THE HYPE!

“The lines between charm, vision, bullsh*t, and fraud have become so narrow as to be one line,” Galloway wrote. “I can relate to the mix of hubris, success, and Christ complex that leads you to believe your business efforts deserve a vision worthy of your genius — if not to distract you and your investors from the reality of how hard it is to build an entity that takes in more money than it spends, while growing. When the board, CEO, and bankers transfer the vicious hangover to retail investors, the distraction becomes malfeasance.”

Galloway’s point in summation: Having charisma doesn’t qualify company founders for capital. At least it shouldn’t. But we all know, everything doesn’t always happen as it should. Yogababble. It’s really a thing.