New co-CEO aims to make American Dream a digital destination

Al Urbanski
Real Estate Editor & Manager
Al Urbanski profile picture
Mark Ghermezian
Mark Ghermezian

Unlike his cousin Don, who has spent most of the last 10 years re-shaping the Mills Corporation’s stymied Xanadu project in New Jersey into American Dream, Mark Ghermezian opted not to begin his professional career in the family business.

“My career path was in the startup tech industry. I love starting companies and using technology to solve problems,” Ghermezian said.

Earlier this year, though, Mark joined Triple Five—the family biz that owns and operates the West Edmonton Mall, Mall of America, and American Dream—as Don’s co-CEO. His mission: use his knowledge of digital technology to position the American Dream not as a mall, but a as a media brand along the lines of Disney.

In 2008, Mark founded Appboy (now Braze), a customer engagement platform that delivers messaging experiences across push, email, apps, and other digital media. The company, which was named No. 21 in Deloitte Technology’s Technology Fast 500 list, endeavors to present brands in a more authentic and human manner, using real-time data streaming to shape and target messages. It’s a formula he’s now putting into play in the Jersey Meadowlands.

“We want to make American Dream a channel. We can create live-streaming events with Nike, Hermes, Lululemon, and we are uniquely positioned to do it,” he said.  “We have a Dreamworks water park and a Nickelodeon theme park and a ski slope. And we also have an expansive retail assortment with the largest Zara’s and the largest Hermés in America.”

Though West Edmonton, Mall of America, and American Dream are the biggest and most highly trafficked shopping sites in North America, both Don and Mark Ghermezian are inspired by what’s going on in Asia.

“When it comes to modern retailing, Asia is far ahead of America. Live-streaming is huge there and not so much here,” Mark said, referring to platforms such as Alibaba’s Tmall and Meipai, a fashion and beauty live-stream that provides product videos to 140 million users.

“I came to the family’s business to instill a new way of culture and a new way of thinking.  I can see some things that others may not see immediately,” said the new Ghermezian in town. “The marketplace doesn’t know where to place us, but we are an indoor entertainment center.”