It’s Thom Feeney’s first day on the job and he’s already feeling a bit overwhelmed. Not by the job, exactly, although starting at WeWork London on the day that the company is opening its fourth building in the city is a challenge.
Feeney has been deluged with calls, texts, and emails because of an Indiegogo campaign he launch earlier this week to bail out the Greek economy. The campaign, which aims to raise €1.6 billion ($1.7 billion), had neared the €900,000 ($995,000) mark. More than 51,000 people had contributed to the campaign as of Wednesday.
“I’m still spinning somewhat,” says Feeney, talking from London where he and the rest of the staff were in the middle of events for the opening of WeWork Moorgate. “I mean, I’ve just been in the building for six hours.”
In a matter of days, he’s become something of a celebrity, appearing in newspapers around the world. His Indiegogo page has been shared thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook. The traffic to the page was so great that Indiegogo had to briefly take the page offline Tuesday.
Feeney says that his ”near impossible” campaign had a slow start, but then a few news organizations wrote about his novel approach to solving an entire country’s debt problems.
“Once it was in the news, it was suddenly everywhere in a matter of hours,” Feeney says. “I’ve lost count of how many interviews I’ve done—at least six before work. And I don’t even remember how many I did yesterday.”
Feeney says he started the campaign because he was fed up with the “dithering” by European politicians, who seem to be using the country’s precarious financial situation as a way to push their own agendas. In the meantime, the country has defaulted on its loans.
People who donate to the campaign get some nice perks, depending on how much they fork out. Donating €3 gets a postcard of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. For €5,000, the reward is a weeklong trip to Greece.
But why a campaign to help Greece? Does Feeney have a Greek background?
“No, I don’t have a Greek heritage,” he says. “The only real connection is that when I was 18, I learned Greek. I was planning on touring the Greek islands. But I ended up scrapping my gap year plans.”
If the entire amount is not raised, everyone’s donations are refunded. Feeney says that the whole point was to raise awareness of what individuals can do to create change in a big way.
“It would be nice if people felt that even if the campaign doesn’t reach the target, they can still contribute in a different way,” says Feeney.
Feeney’s colleagues at WeWork were amazed that the newly minted associate community manager had become a media star.
“We’ve been really excited, actually,” says Deborah Rippol, WeWork London’s community lead. “None of us has ever encountered anything like this.”
But Rippol says that she immediately knew that the new addition to the team had something special.
“When we met him, we wanted him to start as soon as possible,” she says. “We knew he’d be perfect for WeWork.”
Feeney agrees, saying that he decided to work for the company because of its focus on community.
“WeWork is all about community, and you can really feel that when you step in the door,” Feeney says. “You can tell that from the vibe.”