Why one of Walmart's most powerful executives is leaving to transform the future of cities

Brian Sozzi and Julia La Roche
·5 min read

Walmart U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore is waving goodbye to a behemoth of a digital business he helped supercharge in under five years.

The company said on Friday that Lore will retire on Jan. 31 and will remain as a strategic adviser through September.

Lore’s new mission — though offering just a few details in an interview with Yahoo Finance —will be to take cities around the world to the next level. Presumably given Lore’s tech-heavy resume, that means a focus on accelerating the adoption of smart cities.

“I have a vision for a new model for society where people are happier and have a higher quality of life and maybe making up for some of the things that aren’t quite right for capitalism,” Lore said.

In start-up fashion, Lore said he would like to create a new city from scratch and prove his new model, but hasn’t decided on a location.

“The city will also be more sustainable, it'll be safer, less noise pollution, it'll be, you know, the transportation will be public transportation and a lot more efficient. We'll take all the learnings of existing cities and everything we've learned and sort of build from scratch,” Lore explained, adding the city will be very tech-friendly and ideally home to millions of people.

What’s more, this new city will be built on a “reformed version of capitalism.” While Lore’s views of capitalism require a much longer and nuanced discussion than the 10-minute phone call would allow for, he said he’s spent a lot of time thinking and talking about it.

“At some point, we can talk in more detail, but the reformed version of capitalism is like not to change capitalism at all, and this is nowhere approaching socialism. It is simply capitalism, with more opportunity and less of a gap in income and wealth inequality,” he said.

According to Lore, the way to create this economic model is not done with higher taxes or socialism.

“That's the magic and I think that's why I'm so excited I think we figured out a way to do it without higher taxes without it being socialism. In fact, if it works well we could have both, we could have lower taxes, and less inequality, with still the same upside, you know without capping anybody's upside as well.”

While it sounds like the “Holy Grail,” Lore believes there’s a path that can be achieved with a clean slate.

“Just like anything, if I went out there and explained it to people, you know some people would get it, some would believe it, some wouldn’t. It would be very hard to implement something like that in an existing country or city, because it's so different. It's such a different way to approach it. With a clean slate and a new city you really can, you know, prove it out, you know, unencumbered.”

In this Monday, May 2, 2016, photo, Jet.com CEO Marc Lore talks to a reporter in Hoboken, N.J. Lore aims to reinvent the shopping cart while taking on Amazon.com. The marketplace site, launched in July 2015 to a lot of scrutiny, now sells more than 11 million products ranging from jeans to diapers in its bid to underprice an industry Goliath and other stores. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Marc Lore, former Jet.com CEO, is leaving Walmart. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Lore told Yahoo Finance he has been thinking about the move for six months or so as the retailer plots its long-term digital strategy.

The world's largest retailer acquired Lore’s Jet.com in 2016 for $3.3 billion in cash. Although some on Wall Street viewed the purchase price as lofty at the time, there is no denying the impact Lore and the Jet.com folks have had on Walmart since the deal closed in September 2016. Walmart shut down Jet.com in March 2020.

Not only have the Jet.com people infused Walmart’s once slow-moving digital ranks with fresh thinking and speed, but Lore has fueled a rollout of Amazon-attacking same-day delivery services while meaningfully improving the online and mobile shopping experiences.

Walmart’s online sales have surged pretty much every quarter (that includes prior to the coronavirus pandemic) after the Jet.com deal closed. Shares of Walmart have risen an 100% since the closing of the Jet.com deal (The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 70%), in large part because the Street views Walmart as an e-commerce leader.

Keeping the online momentum going will now fall on Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner.

CEO Doug McMillon wasted no time praising Lore’s work in an internal memo to employees obtained by Yahoo Finance.

“Since the Jet acquisition, we’ve seen our eCommerce growth accelerate — including rapid growth in our online grocery business. Marc’s leadership helped ensure we were positioned to respond to the demand driven by the pandemic this year. All of this progress is the result of good work from a lot of people, of course, but Marc’s expertise and aggressiveness have been game-changing. We have learned a lot from him. I have personally learned a lot from him,” said McMillon.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn. Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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