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The Cities Issue

The Guy Wants to Build a Utopian Megalopolis

“Let the people own the land!” says Marc Lore. “But in a capitalistic way.”

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Illustration: Gongyu Hu for Bloomberg Businessweek

In an American economy of winners and losers, it’s clear where Marc Lore falls. He founded two e-commerce startups and sold them for $550 million and $3.3 billion before spending the last five years running Walmart Inc.’s online shopping division. Since announcing his departure from Walmart in January, Lore is on a victory lap that seems to include doing everything short of climbing into a rocket and shooting himself into space. Yet somehow, even as he’s bought a stake in a basketball team, begun learning the basics of his new Steinway grand piano, and planned a reality show (it’ll be like Shark Tank, but with bigger checks), Lore has found time to ponder what he sees as the biggest challenge facing the U.S.—the country’s massive wealth gap. “Most civilizations in history at some point fall, right?” he says. “This is going to bring down America.”

Lore laid out his plan to solve things during repeated phone and in-person interviews over the past six months. In early May he invited me to his apartment in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood for lunch. Covid-19’s winter wave had waned, and vaccinations were becoming more widely available, but interacting with humans still felt weird, so Lore had arranged to have the walls on the top floor of his $43.8 million penthouse retracted, allowing the breezes coming in from the Hudson River to ventilate one of his living rooms.