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

Before winner-take-all became the name of the game, a bookseller called Ingram showed a better way

Note: This is a republication of an article that exploring the limits of Amazon’s vaunted “customer obsession” when pursued at the expense of suppliers, and contrasting it with the philosophy of Ingram, the book wholesaling platform that gave Amazon its start.

A few days later, Jeff Bezos published his , which almost reads like a response to my article. Though that could not have been possible given that his shareholder letter must have been well underway when my article first appeared, the update to Amazon’s thinking is very relevant…


After Covid-19, big retailers now own 90% of the online pet food market. Can a new organization help small pet shops hang on?

An illustration of a pack of dogs surrounding and growling at two dogs. One dog is a doberman wearing a collar with the Chewy logo, the other dog is a bulldog wearing a collar with the Amazon logo. The two dogs are sitting on top of a mountain of dog treats.
An illustration of a pack of dogs surrounding and growling at two dogs. One dog is a doberman wearing a collar with the Chewy logo, the other dog is a bulldog wearing a collar with the Amazon logo. The two dogs are sitting on top of a mountain of dog treats.
Illustration: for Marker

As the cold darkness of winter set in and the calendar flipped to a second year of Covid life, Kaite Giordano, a fourth-grade teacher in New York City and the mother of seven-year-old James, made a major decision. To break free from the doldrums, their Brooklyn household needed to expand.

And so James got a new bestie: Chewie, a named after everyone’s favorite Wookie—not the . Although Giordano had never owned a dog before and wasn’t really a pet person, she thought a four-legged friend was just what the family needed. “The loneliness and isolation of…


A live music venue with shuttered doors. Old concert posters are taped up and a health mask is fluttering in the wind. There are graffiti markings over the closed pull down garage doors.
A live music venue with shuttered doors. Old concert posters are taped up and a health mask is fluttering in the wind. There are graffiti markings over the closed pull down garage doors.
for Marker

And it’s going to be total chaos

When the stage lights rose before the show on March 14, 2020, at Saint Vitus, a cramped New York City heavy metal bar, the venue felt a little more on edge than normal. In its near decade of shows, dance parties, and drinking, the intimate, dimly lit bar and concert venue, a former plumbing school located in the “” of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, had become an internationally respected nexus for all things heavy metal. That Saturday night, a noise-rock supergroup called Human Impact would give the last concert before the venue officially announced a shutdown on the 17th. …


The private club chain was saddled with debt. Now it’s prepping for a hedonism boom—and plans to IPO

Photos: Jeff Schear/Stringer; Jennifer Graylock/Stringer; Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

When Nick Jones, the founder of Soho House, the chain of swank private member clubs, began plotting his invasion of Hong Kong more than a decade ago, he never could have predicted how bad the timing of its actual debut would be. The city, a former colony of the British Crown, was home to a booming economy, and a thriving urban creative elite — the type to which the London-based club has long catered. Meanwhile, the 50-year “one country, two systems” deal under which Great Britain had transferred sovereignty back to China wasn’t set to expire until 2047.

By the…


Where did these strange viral videos come from and who is making tens of millions of dollars a year from them?

for Marker

I’m glued to , watching one of the most ridiculous life hacks imaginable from 5-Minute Crafts. A young woman has put clear soap cubes in a bowl and liquified them. She adds green food coloring to the mix, then pours it into a latex glove. She puts a suction cup into the open part of the glove. The soap mix solidifies again, holding the suction cup in place. She peels off the glove to reveal a green soap hand that she sticks to a wall in her bathroom above her sink. …


Why are massive brands and startups selling Tesla shorts, McDonald’s chicken nugget pillows, and Stouffer’s hoodies?

Illustration by for Marker

In May 2020, confronting a raging pandemic, fierce competition from a slew of new entrants in the alternative-beverage category, and a limited marketing budget to support the launch of three new drink flavors, Ben Witte, CEO and founder of Recess, a maker of CBD-infused sparkling water, did what the head of any up-and-coming direct-to-consumer brand might: He dropped a merch line.

Featuring a “last two brain cells” hoodie ($65), a “cool your horses” T-shirt ($35), an orange “on recess” beanie, and a pair of $18 “around the block” socks (“for going nowhere in particular”), the line was designed, says Witte…


Who needs threats of antitrust when Zuckerberg and Cook are heading towards their own Shakespearean ending

A photo illustration of Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook faces superimposed on to famous ancient orators in a painting and arguing.
A photo illustration of Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook faces superimposed on to famous ancient orators in a painting and arguing.
Photo illustration, source: Drew Angerer; Justin Sullivan / Getty

There seems no end to the fury of Epic Games against Apple. On three continents, the megahit maker of Fortnite is claiming that Apple is leveraging its outsized technological power to strangle companies that refuse to bow to its control over millions of apps-based businesses. Apple, Epic alleges in its latest salvo — an angry filed in the European Union last week — has “completely eliminated competition in app distribution” and hurt small developers with the 30% standard cut of revenue it demands off the top.

Epic’s offensive is among dozens of anti-monopoly cases on both sides of…


Nick Huber is leading a growing entrepreneurial movement that’s anti-unicorn—and pro-plumbing

A close-up portrait of Nick Huber with 2D illustrations of paintbrushes, buckets, arrows, and hammers surrounding his face.
A close-up portrait of Nick Huber with 2D illustrations of paintbrushes, buckets, arrows, and hammers surrounding his face.
Photo illustration by for Marker

It’s early evening in Athens, Georgia, and Nick Huber, entrepreneur and recently crowned startup expert, is about to record a podcast. Huber and his followers aren’t your typical founders. They don’t want to divine the next unicorn, launch a SPAC, raise a wad of eight-figure VC funding, or even break into a Y Combinator class. They have their eyes set on something more earthly, if not provocative: hatch a really solid pest control or lawn care business. “You ask anybody what entrepreneurship is, and they think of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Shark Tank,” Huber says. “The real, true…


Inside the brave new world of data-driven, search-optimized virtual restaurants that exist only on DoorDash and GrubHub

Illustration by for Marker

For a small town of 4,000 people in New York’s Hudson Valley, Highland Falls punches well above its cultural weight. In more normal years, tens of thousands of tourists would descend upon the town to tour the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and nearby Revolutionary War sites. Billy Joel, a onetime resident, about the place. And late last year, Highland Falls became the chosen host of another national institution: Chipotle’s very first ghost kitchen, a new store model with no in-person ordering and no in-store dining.

On a recent winter afternoon, I trekked an hour…


They had $19 million, a deal with Disney, and dreams of becoming the next Ben & Jerry’s. Then everything fell apart.

A GIF animation of a two-scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream cone melting onto a sidewalk.
A GIF animation of a two-scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream cone melting onto a sidewalk.
Animation by for Marker

The after-school rush had just ended one weekday in the spring of 2015 when the phone rang at the Vanderbilt Avenue location of Ample Hills Creamery, the Brooklyn ice cream brand famous for its whimsical and elaborate flavors. Scooper Jason Smith answered the call, expecting to tell some customer what time they closed or that, yes, they still had Nonna D’s, a brown sugar cinnamon ice cream with oatmeal cookies. …

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