Why Tech Moguls Are Obsessed With Building Utopian Cities

Marc Lore joins Bill Gates and Peter Thiel as the latest founder to create a city in his own reflection

Patrick Sisson
Marker
Published in
6 min readJan 26, 2021

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An artistic rendering of a techno-futuristic city with modern skyscrapers and uniquely shaped structures.
Illustration: Comrade

In historian Ben Wilson’s new book on the history of cities, Metropolis, he notes that the ancient Mesopotamian settlement of Uruk, considered urbanization’s first draft, actually came thousands of years after an elaborate stone worship site was assembled on a mountainside in present-day Turkey. “The temple came before the farm,” he wrote. In other words, beliefs are more important than buildings.

This truism of city hatching is just as relevant today, at a time when tech moguls seek to refashion themselves as a different kind of founder. In a recent interview with Recode, Marc Lore, a billionaire serial e-commerce entrepreneur considered the brains behind Walmart’s successful online expansion, announced he’s retiring to join a rarefied club: tech titan turned city father. The logistics and efficiency expert, a founder of both Jet.com (the sale of which netted him nearly half a billion dollars) and a digital diaper delivery service acquired by Amazon, will turn his focus toward building a high-tech city of the future boasting “the vibrancy, diversity, and culture of New York City combined with the efficiency, safety, and innovation of Tokyo and the…

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Patrick Sisson
Marker
Writer for

A Chicago expat living in Los Angeles, Patrick Sisson writes about the intersection of cities, business, and culture.