Tony Hsieh, former CEO of retail giant Zappos and DTP founder, has died at the age of 46.
DTP Companies, based in Las Vegas, released a statement on November 27 confirming his death, according to KLAS. The entrepreneur died surrounded by his friends and family in Connecticut, the station reported.
“Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world,” DTP said in a statement obtained by KLAS. “Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life.”
Hsieh founded DTP in 2012, which injected $350 million into real estate, entertainment and tech startups around Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, KLAS said.
His death comes just three months after he retired as CEO of Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer based in Las Vegas, following a 20-year stint, the station continued.
Kedar Deshpande, Zappos CEO, paid tribute to the “incredible human being” online, writing:
“The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being. We recognize that not only have we lost our inspiring former leader, but many of you have also lost a mentor and a friend. Tony played such an integral part in helping create the thriving Zappos business we have today, along with his passion for helping to support and drive our company culture.”
Puoy Premsrirut, Hsieh’s lawyer, told the Reno Gazette Journal that he “sustained injuries from a house fire” while visiting family in Connecticut.
No further details surrounding his death have been released.
Here’s what you need to know about Tony Hsieh:
1. Hsieh Joined Zappos in 1999 & ‘Grew It Into a Blockbuster Business’
Hsieh joined Zappos in 1999 as the CEO, according to Footwear News.
The company began as an online shoe retailer before it quickly expanded into the realm of handbags, clothing and accessories, KLAS added.
Footwear News described Zappos as the “pioneer” of free shipping and returns. “It didn’t take long for the concept to take hold as e-commerce took off,” the outlet said.
In 2009, Hsieh sold the “blockbuster” business to Amazon for about $1.2 billion in Amazon stock, Footwear News disclosed. He remained with the company until his retirement this summer.
2. Hsieh Founded DTP in January 2012 & Has Been Credited With Revitalizing Downtown Las Vegas
In January 2012, Hsieh founded DTP “with the idea that if you accelerate co-learning, collisions, and connectedness in the city’s urban core, productivity, innovation, growth, and happiness will fall into place,” according to its website.
The company “allocated” $350 million toward the revival of downtown Las Vegas, the website claims, including $200 million for real estate and development, $50 million for small businesses, $50 million for technology and an additional $50 million for arts, culture, education and health care.
On the investment, DTP’s website states:
A large portion of our investment was allocated toward real estate and development in the Fremont East/East Village districts of downtown Las Vegas. We own approximately 45 acres, and we’re activating our holdings in an organic way, rather than through a top-down master plan. We’ve purposely activated buildings that are not directly next to one another in order to encourage people to walk a little farther into the neighborhood, which increases opportunities for collisions.
3. Hsieh Was an Advocate of ‘Company Culture’
During an interview with blogger Neil Patel, Hsieh recalled the hiring process for his first company, LinkExchange, as a recent college graduate.
The entrepreneur said he initially hired his friends, or friends of friends, until the company needed more people, Patel reported.
“They didn’t have a lot of experience hiring, but because of business growth, they had to hire someone. Since they didn’t have any friends left to hire, they needed to bring in someone from the outside,” the blogger said.
“Hsieh says that, while competent people with the right skill set were hired, they weren’t a good culture fit,” Patel continued. “By the time LinkExchange grew to around 100 employees, the culture was lost. Hsieh says that it was difficult to get out of bed in the morning to go work at his own company.”
In 2010, Hsieh published his first book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Footwear News stated. The book seeks to enlighten readers on “how company culture and employee happiness are sustainable means to having a business of profits, passion, and purpose,” according to its website.
4. Hsieh Lived in a Trailer Park
According to CNBC, Hsieh lived in a “240-square-foot Airstream trailer” in Las Vegas at less than $1,000 per month — despite having roughly $780 million attached to his name.
The near-billionaire told NPR’s Guy Raz that he would rather spend money on experiences than material things, CNBC continued.
“Right now I live in an Airstream,” Hsieh said during an episode of NPR’s How I Built This podcast, according to CNBC. “I just love it because there’s so many random, amazing things that happen around the campfire at night. I think of it as the world’s largest living room.”
Hsieh expressed that there wasn’t a material item, other than “maybe” his phone, that he would attempt to save from a burning building, CNBC reported.
“Sometimes people ask me what my definition of success is, and for me it’s getting to the point where you’re truly okay with losing everything you have,” Hsieh told Raz, according to CNBC.
5. Hsieh Was Born in Illinois & Graduated from Harvard University
Hsieh was born on December 12, 1973, in Illinois, Your Tech Story reported. His parents, Richard and Judy Hsieh, emigrated from Taiwan, the outlet continued.
The future entrepreneur was raised in the bay area of San Francisco, alongside his two brothers, YTS said.
According to Hsieh’s LinkedIn, he graduated from Harvard University in 1995. YTS added that he studied computer science while managing the “Quincy House Grille” — in which he sold pizza to students in his dorm.
YTS reported that Hsieh never married.