What 19th-Century Kansas Cow Towns Teach Us About Global Capital

Like Amazon Today, Railroads Determined the Fortunes of Even the Most Distant Communities

Boasting dozens of windows and a hundred-person dining room, the Drovers Cottage was quite a hotel by the standards of the 19th-century American West. Even more impressive: It managed to be the main attraction of two different towns.

Dovers Cottage was originally built in Abilene, Kansas, during a cattle boom in the late 1860s, when Abilene was the first great railhead connecting the cattle ranches of Texas to the emerging national rail network. But Abilene’s fortunes soon turned—when Ellsworth, Kansas, took its place as the new cattle boomtown.

Ellsworth rose to …

Why Two California Billionaires Should Buy Newspapers

Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk Could Launder Their Reputations—And Maybe Serve the Public

To: Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk
From: Joe Mathews
Re: Acquisition and Reputation

Have you two lost your minds?

Both of you are suffering through long-running, self-inflicted public relations crises. Mark, Facebook’s …

The Amazon Headquarters Sweepstakes Is Bad for Cities

The Tax Incentives Doled out to the Online Shopping Giant Aren't Worth the Gains in Jobs

Envious of Silicon Valley’s success, more than 80 places throughout the world have renamed one of their neighborhoods “Silicon-something,” including “Silicon Beach” in Los Angeles, “Silicon Bayou” in New Orleans, …

Why Not to Trust “Buy Now” Buttons

Digital Media Ownership Is Partly Based on Lies

The multibillion-dollar digital media marketplace is built, in part, on a lie. Companies like Apple and Amazon entice their customers to “buy now” and “own it in HD.” But consumers …

When the World Came to My South L.A. Door

Amazon Is Nothing New, in the 1930s and ‘40s Salesmen Delivered Everything From Fresh Doughnuts to Steel Guitars

I remember most clearly the things that aren’t here anymore, the things that I saw as a child in our neighborhood in South Los Angeles.

In 1937, when I was …

What Does Amazon Want to Be When It Grows Up?

Facing Staggering Losses, the Confused Online Business Can’t Afford to Be All Things to All People

Amazon recently announced a staggering $437 million loss over the third quarter. This three-month period included the disastrous introduction of its new smartphone, a misstep for which the company has …