Ep. 008: Derek Thompson

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Derek Thompson is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction. Well-respected, Thompson is one of my most read journalists. His range extends from economics to anthropological. He’s authored pieces like A World Without Work: an exploration of the future of artificial intelligence and its impact on employment. He’s skilled at parsing through subjects ranging from technology, economic, political, and cultural. An award-winning writer and best-sellling author, he’s also a prolific tweeter (@DKThomp) as well.

Thompson hosts The Atlantic’s latest podcast Crazy/Genius, which was nominated for an iHeartMedia Best Podcast in its first year, and is a weekly contributor to “Here and Now,” the national afternoon news show on NPR. He is a regular guest on CBS, the BBC, and MSNBC, has appeared on Inc and Forbes’ “30 Under 30” round-up, as well as Time magazine’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds. [1]

In his latest deep dive at The Atlantic, Thompson covers a prescient topic. How will the pandemic effect retail? Here’s an amazing excerpt from his latest:

By obliterating the face-to-face economy, the coronavirus will return Americans to a blend of virtual commerce and home prep that is reminiscent of the late 19th century. In the 1890s, Sears, Roebuck delivered a bible of goods to the doorsteps of families who cooked at home. In the spring of 2020, Amazon and its ilk deliver an infinitude of stuff to the front steps and mailrooms of families who couldn’t dine out even if they wanted to. [2]

Our discussion was a spirited one. Thompson believes that the suburbs will grow as retail shutters and eCommerce adoption grows. I believe the opposite. I see a clear path to a stumbling suburban ecosystem where commercial real estate’s degradation drags down residential real estate prices. We also discussed over-retail and its influences.

From The Ballad of Victor Gruen:

Today, multiple malls and shopping centers exist for every small suburb in America, designed and constructed with no expectation to achieve sustainable demand. Meanwhile, America is accelerating into urbanization with our growing GDP as the wind at its back. Direct-to-consumer brands are developing, eCommerce has grown to nearly 18% of all retail sales, and urban town centers are popping up – each taking cues from Gruen’s original vision.

This is one of the most interesting conversations that you’ll hear on the juxtaposition of retail, eCommerce, and real estate.



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