Ten days before the end of 2018, WeWork’s new $60m Gulfstream took off from a small airport north of New York and set a course for Kauai, Hawaii’s garden island. On board was Adam Neumann, the company’s messianic co-founder, who had a plan to hit the waves with surfing legend Laird Hamilton and a $20bn secret.

It was less than a decade since the Israeli had sketched out a plan with his friend Miguel McKelvey for turning dull offices into empowering communities for restless entrepreneurs. But WeWork had already overtaken JPMorgan Chase as New York’s largest commercial tenant and controlled more square metres in London than anyone but the UK government.

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