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Pop business for the intelligent reader. A publication from Medium.

Malls and old American neighborhoods are in the same place: dead and soon to be forgotten

Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

After the end of World War II, popular media often portrayed American families as accomplished, happy, and most importantly, back together. In fact, they were really happy to be back together. In the post-war economic boom, couples were industriously popping out babies and moving their growing families out of the cities and into the suburbs.

With them came their spending power, of course, putting a dent on Main Street retail stores.

It didn’t take long for businesses to follow people out to the suburbs, resulting in the birth of the iconic American shopping mall, which combined retail shopping, food service…

Or should we consider speed limits, guardrails, and restrictions on size?

The NFL is the most successful sports league in history, but how did a relatively obscure sport — born in Ohio in the 1920's — turn into a cultural and financial powerhouse?

In one word: Parity.

Although it was a long journey of experimentation, the governing body of the NFL developed a system that gave every team a fighting chance to become a champion. This vision kept the sport lively, competitive, and beneficial for everyone in their society. However, to achieve this goal, the team leaders had to agree to two critical rules:

First, they instituted a reverse order first-round…

There’s a vast pipeline of tools to create video games, movies, and TV shows. Epic wants to own it all.

NurPhoto / Getty Images

Epic Games, the company behind the colossally popular and profitable Fortnite, is no stranger to game development infrastructure. It makes the widely-used Unreal Engine, which hundreds of games have used over the last couple decades. But Epic wants to do more than just own the game engine.

So, Epic has been going shopping.

Today, Epic announced it is acquiring SketchFab, a digital marketplace and sharing hub for 3D models. From professionally-designed 3D asset packs for use in game development, to independent artists making highly-detailed replicas of Dinobot from Beast Wars because they feel like it. …


The Olympic Games are an exercise in branding

Friday’s Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony should serve to remind us that in a fundamental way, the Olympic Games are an exercise in branding. While host nations try to communicate a positive image to the rest of the world, the International Olympic Committee attempts to uphold the spirit of the Olympic movement in the face of mounting challenges to its mythology.

At the heart of these branding efforts are graphic identities that often have been among the most memorable aspects of the events themselves. From the op-art-inspired graphics for Mexico City 1968 to the Strahlenkranz (“Garland of Rays”) mark for Munich…

Ten years after its publication, the late anthropologist’s deconstruction of economics is more valuable than ever

In the beginning was debt. In David Graeber’s sprawling epic on the history of money, he charts its shape-shifting from credit to coinage, to credit again, then bullion and finally to virtual currencies. Throughout, debt is the constant and Graeber makes a ferocious case that it is the lens through which economics might be better defined.

Debt has recently been re-issued, ten years after its original publication in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. That event prompted much soul searching about money and a raft of books purporting to explain how we got into such a mess. Most were…

A streaming giant in need of games, and a gaming platform in need of customers. It could work.

Netflix has a problem. It’s one of the most popular ways to watch TV and movies on the internet, but watching TV and movies isn’t the only way for people to spend their time. Increasingly, another medium is vying for people’s attention, and increasingly it’s winning:

Video games.

Netflix correctly acknowledged, as far back as 2018, that they aren’t just in the movie and TV business. They’re in the leisure business. When people sit down in their living room to do something with they’re downtime, they’re not just forced to choose between watching the latest Netflix show, or some show…

A fascinating new book paints a cautionary tale of Adam Neumann’s incredible rise and the dangers of the messianic leader

Jackal Pan/Visual China Group via Getty Images

I only visited one WeWork office, a co-working space at 33 Irving Pl, in New York City, in 2018. I was there to help judge a technology competition and wondered why this company was meeting in a WeWork office.

I’d heard of WeWork but knew little about it. The buzz around it and the company’s founder Adam Neumann didn’t synch up with what appeared to be a sub-leasing firm. …


Why the well-being of cities depends on a people-first approach

Strøget in Copenhagen, one of the first streets to re-pedestrianize after being overtaken by cars.

For the last 70 years, cities around the world have been torn apart, retrofitted, and codified to accommodate 2-ton vehicles at the expense of all other modes of transportation. These deeply engrained patterns have dispersed people and businesses out to a sprawling landscape of dependency, diluted our places of vibrancy, and have left behind environmental devastation. In a silver lining to an otherwise devastating year, it only took a few months and a bit of political leniency to revert to a pre-car world.

Life as we know it came to halt in March of last year. As people sheltered in…

Number Crunch

Airlines are going on a buying and hiring spree as customers return to the skies

$30 billion: The estimated cost of the 270 airplanes United Airlines is buying in preparation for the return of air travel, according to Reuters. The order is the largest in the company’s history.

The airlines are betting that the great pandemic staycation is over. Many have begun investing heavily in anticipation of consumers once again taking to the skies. United Airlines announced an order of 200 Boeing 737 MAX jets and 70 Airbus SE A321neos in a deal costing over $30 billion (before discounts). The move is part of the company’s plan to invest in over 500 new planes, many…

Kanye West is proving how lucrative his quasi-religious appeal can be

Image: Gap/Reddit

On June 8, 2021, Kanye West turned 44. Yeezy Gap made the first product from its collection available for a pre-order: the Yeezy Gap round jacket. It was widely available, for a limited time; another time will come in autumn of 2021. All official traces of it at the Gap website and social media have since been scrubbed from the internet, to keep the excitement (hype!), but its footprints still exist. Many people follow Yeezy Gap’s collection and products closely, but I’m much more interested in the organization and the business. …


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