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Decrypted on Smash Notes

Decrypted podcast.

December 28, 2019

The global technology industry is a powerful engine of innovation that drives the economy. It's also a collection of insular communities full of hidden projects, quiet rivalries, and uncomfortable truths. Join Bloomberg Technology's Brad Stone each week as he and the team's reporters uncover what actually happens behind closed doors.



Episodes with Smash Notes

The WeWork Story, Part 6: After WeWork's failed IPO, thousands of employees were laid off and the company teetered on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, ousted CEO Adam Neumann flew to Israel with a generous exit package in hand. In this final episode of Foundering, reporter Ellen Huet surveys the wreckage of WeWork. Adam's executives and employees were asking themselves: Did Adam ever really believe in the values he preached? And what lessons will the world draw from WeWork's crash?

The WeWork Story, Part 6: WeWork had spent nine years chasing lightning-fast growth, burning billions of dollars, and expanding around the world. In 2019, the company reached a turning point: WeWork needed even more cash, and Adam Neumann decided to take his company public with a massive IPO. But suddenly, in the span of a few weeks, his plan crashed spectacularly. The almost-IPO flopped and WeWork became a laughingstock. In this episode, reporter Ellen Huet asks: How did the company's fortune flip so fast, and why didn't they see it coming?

The killers of Berta Caceres had every reason to believe they’d get away with murder. More than 100 other environmental activists in Honduras had been killed in the previous five years, yet almost no one had been punished for the crimes. Bloomberg’s Blood River follows a four-year quest to find her killers – a twisting trail that leads into the country’s circles of power. Blood River premieres on July 27.

The WeWork Story, Part 5: Adam Neumann always had wild ambitions. By 2017, he had found an even wilder investor who wanted to fund those ambitions: SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. Adam spent his billions from SoftBank on competitive tactics, seemingly random investments, and even an elementary school. In this episode, reporter Ellen Huet explores why this free-wheeling spending was so odd: Adam knew this was a bad idea. In exclusive recordings from internal meetings in 2016, he warned his employees that they had to cut back on WeWork's "spending culture." But once the money poured in, it appeared like he forgot his own advice.

The WeWork Story, Part 4: What happened at WeWork when things got ugly between the company and its employees? As WeWork expanded, a handful of employees wanted to speak out and interrupt the public image that WeWork was presenting to the world. In this episode, reporter Ellen Huet follows the stories of two former workers, some of the first insiders to speak up about what they saw on the job. 

The WeWork Story, Part 3: To its thousands of employees, WeWork was much more than a job. Founder Adam Neumann leveraged his employees’ emotions to motivate them. In exclusive tapes obtained by Bloomberg, Adam lectured employees that working at WeWork was special: “You do not get a chance like this again.”

In this episode, a former employee describes the tumultuous experience of working inside WeWork’s headquarters, from their raucous parties to the late night meetings.

WeWork sold office space, but also it sold something else: fun. Beer flowed freely, members partied at the office, and your work was your life. But getting these offices off the ground was utter chaos, especially for the burgeoning company’s young, inexperienced workers. In this episode, reporter Ellen Huet takes a look at WeWork’s early days, when the company was growing so fast that some buildings opened without doors or functioning bathrooms.

When Adam Neumann dreamed up WeWork, he took inspiration from part of his childhood: his years on a kibbutz in Israel. On stage when discussing WeWork, he waxed poetic about the spirit of community he had found there, and how WeWork was similar, but different -- a “kibbutz 2.0.” So reporter Ellen Huet wanted to find out: Was the kibbutz anything like a WeWork? And how did it shape what Adam later built?

Adam Neumann had a vision: to make his startup WeWork a wildly successful company that would change the world. He convinced thousands of other people -- customers, employees, investors -- that he could make that dream a reality. And for a while, he did. He was one of the most successful startup founders in the world. But then, in the span of just a few months, everything changed. Foundering is a new serialized podcast from the journalists at Bloomberg Technology. This season, we’ll tell you the story of WeWork, a company that captured the startup boom of the 2010s and also may be remembered as a spectacular bust that marked the end of an era. Foundering premieres June 25, 2020.

Bloomberg Technology reporter Ellen Huet has some exciting news about what's coming in the Decrypted feed. We’re launching a new show, Foundering, and spending our entire first season looking at the story of WeWork.

This week on Decrypted, hosts Aki and Brad get together one last time for an announcement: This will be the very last episode of Decrypted. They also look back at some of their favorite episodes from the show, with updates on where those stories are today. (But don't unsubscribe from this feed because we'll be announcing a new show next spring!) For a list of episodes Aki and Brad will be discussing:

Young Blood and the Pursuit of Eternal Youth

He Sparked the Fake News Boom. Then Facebook Broke His Business

A Hacker's Redemption, Part 1 and Part 2

Inside a Multinational Cyber Weapons Deal That Went Bust

Meet the Whistleblower Behind a Silicon Valley Meltdown

Human vs Machine: Fitness Gadgets

Computers can now drive cars, identify faces and transcribe speech, but many experts said that it would take much longer for AI to tackle creative endeavors. This week on Decrypted, Bloomberg Technology's Natalia Drozdiak meets three composers using artificial intelligence to make music, and she and host Aki Ito dissect their robo-generated songs.