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Rolling the Dice on Las Vegas | MIT Technology Review

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The center of Las Vegas is a depressed area, full of tattoo parlors and empty lots, that visitors to the ritzy Strip usually don’t see. But Hsieh, an e-commerce entrepreneur who made a fortune when he sold Zappos to Amazon in 2009 and still runs the company, thinks that if he can lure creative and entrepreneurial people to relocate to the area, all kinds of startup companies will follow, from the next big thing in technology to simply a new ice-cream shop.

“Our big bet—which I don’t think is really a bet—is just getting lots of people from different perspectives and backgrounds together in a relatively small area with a bias toward sharing and collaboration,” he says. “Statistically, the magic will just happen on its own.”

Specifically, Hsieh thinks fostering innovation comes down to maximizing “collisions,” his term for any kind of encounter between people. Guided in part by Harvard economist Edward Glaeser’s book Triumph of the City, the Downtown Project has determined that it needs to increase the neighborhood density to 100 residents per acre (high density is an ideal put forth by Glaeser), from what it says is 14.5 currently. It also needs to get people out of their cars, because that will increase collisions, too.

Agnes, is your friend in the Downtown Project or some other part of Las Vegas?

I visited the Downtown Project a few months ago and I was impressed by how novel their approach is.

My understanding is that anyone can go to downtown Las Vegas anytime to participate. It's open.

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