In a recent interview with Fortune for an article titled “The New Metropolis,” Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and MeetUp Co-Founder and CEO Scott Heifermann spent much of their time discussing collisions.
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“[One] thing you need in a city, that is the cheapest thing to do but also the hardest,” said Hsieh, “is a culture of openness and collaboration and sharing. If people are twice as likely to engage with each other, then maybe you don’t need residential density, and if you live in a city or place where no one talks to each other, then the density doesn’t matter.”
For both men, urban spaces that allow and encourage people to meet in real life are as critical to their business models as the ease with which people can navigate their websites or purchase a product.
“So really,” said Hsieh, “the question is, what’s the culture of the community or the city?”
This question gets to the heart of Chengdu’s current transition from a sleepy provincial capital to a bustling, globalized urban hub deep in China’s interior. In this city, there are two places where people collide and share: teahouses and late-night eateries.