Dan Doctoroff on Cities and Technology's Role

Episode Seven of the Thesis Driven Leader Series

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For three decades, Dan Doctoroff’s vision for cities—and how technology can make them better—has shaped how we think about urban development in the US. He helped make New York City what it is today, pushing forward projects such as the Highline, Barclays Center, Long Island City Waterfront, Hudson Yards and Citi Bike through his role as Deputy Mayor of Economic Development under Mayor Bloomberg.

In 2015, he leaned into technology’s role in shaping cities, partnering with Alphabet to launch Sidewalk Labs. At Sidewalk, Doctoroff and his team tackled a wide range of projects from bringing public Wi-Fi to cities to improving healthcare for low-income individuals to an ambitious—and ultimately doomed—plan to build a smart city within Toronto.

Today’s discussion spans Doctoroff’s career, his views on the future of cities (including New York), the role technology can play in urban development, and how we can build better places for everyone. Through it, he has advice for entrepreneurs and innovators with big aspirations, from building new cities to getting companies off the ground. We also discuss the importance of storytelling and narrative when doing anything meaningful at scale.

Since Sidewalk, Doctoroff’s career has taken him on a different path. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with ALS. He has since dedicated himself to researching, changing and funding how science and industry approach finding a cure. 

I hope you enjoy this conversation with one of the most thoughtful people I’ve met on the future of the built world and technology’s impact on it. As always, you can listen here on Substack or on the following platforms:

See you next week!

—Brad Hargreaves

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Thesis Driven
Thesis Driven Leader Series
At Thesis Driven, we research and write about trends in the built world. Join Thesis Driven founder Brad Hargreaves as he interviews the leading voices at the intersection of real estate, cities, innovation and technology. Guests include innovators like Zillow founder Spencer Rascoff, the renowned East Coast developer MaryAnne Gilmartin, AOL founder and real estate visionary Steve Case and many more top change makers in real estate.