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Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, owns a party bus, a party house, and what could be termed a party insect—a 40-foot-long praying mantis that shoots fire from its antennas. He views all of these things as a particular sort of investment.

Before the market crashed and home prices tumbled, before federal investigators showed up and hauled away the community records, before her property managers pled guilty for conspiring to rig neighborhood elections, and before her real estate lawyer allegedly tried to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs and setting fire to her home, Wanda Murray thought that buying a condominium in Las Vegas was a pretty good idea.

When Tupac was riddled with bullets just off the Las Vegas Strip in 1996, yet another city was added to the long list of those that have claims on him: Baltimore, Oakland, New York, Los Angeles, Marin City. As the list's last entry, Las Vegas became the one people would least like to remember. Strangely, the city already had a street named after him—or so it would appear to us now.

For those keeping score, a “short-term gain” for a 23-year-old who still lives in his dad’s house now apparently equals three-quarters of a billion dollars. In going for the long gain, Spiegel will either become the next great billionaire prodigy or the ultimate cautionary tale of youthful hubris.

The lecture hall is packed. The elephant-gray room is set up like a mini-arena to allow for maximum capacity and good acoustics. It’s new but generic — there are probably a million of these very same tank-like spaces in universities around the world. The concrete step I’m sitting on cuts into my back as I shuffle my feet to make room for the other kids and parents who are streaming in.

Except for the occasional doctor’s appointment or bad cold, Irving Kahn hasn’t skipped a day of work in more years than he can remember. And he can remember plenty of them: He’s 105. The world’s oldest stockbroker, he first went to work on Wall Street in 1928. 

Let me tell you about this one stretch of Hillsborough Road in Durham, North Carolina. It’s between two freeways, just a short drive from the noble towers of Duke University, and in the space of about a mile, you will find a McDonald’s, a Cracker Barrel, a Wendy’s, a Chick-fil-A, an Arby’s, a Waffle House, a Bojangles’, a Biscuitville, a Subway, a Taco Bell, and a KFC.

Harold Evans, the publisher of Random House, calls me at The New Yorker, where I work. “I’d like to have a word with you,” he says. “Can we have coffee sometime, perhaps?” It is 1995, and Evans and I have met at parties given by his wife, who happens to be Tina Brown, who happens to be the editor of The New Yorker.

That was the logo emblazoned on my baby clothes, the logo my great-grandfather created. It was, I thought, forgotten family history, the factories having shut down shortly after I was born in the ’80s. After a moment I took out my phone and called my mom and asked her what the hell was going on.

Jack Abraham’s taxi came to a stop. It was Saturday night, Feb. 17, 2012 — around 7:30 p.m. Outside the cab, it was dark and in the low 40s. Abraham had arrived at San Francisco Airport. He had just barely enough time to make his flight. Still, he hesitated, momentarily glued to the seat as the momentousness of what he was about to do fully dawned on him.

“Are you crazy?” he asked himself, out loud.

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