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Sarah Halzack and Shira Ovide

The Lord & Taylor-WeWork Deal Passes the Hubris Torch

While retail adjusts to harsh reality, tech(-ish) startups live in fantasy land.

It's hard to ignore the symbolism of a recent $850 million real-estate deal: Lord & Taylor, a storied but struggling department store, is selling its Manhattan flagship to high-flying startup WeWork Cos., which will turn it into a headquarters.

On its face, it seems like a classic tale of "out with the old, in with the new." But a better way of looking at this deal is that it exposes a key contrast crystallizing in two major industries: Retail is being forced to get realistic about threats to its business model, while technology startups -- or those that can pass for one -- are still dwelling in a fantasy land.