Passing of a Visionary: Tony Hsieh, former Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Tony Hsieh, former CEO of retail giant Zappos and founder of DTP, has passed away at the age of 46.

DTP Companies, formerly known as the Downtown Project, confirmed the visionary died peacefully Friday with family by his side in Connecticut after sustaining injuries in a house fire earlier this month.

“I can now confirm Tony passed from injuries sustained in a house fire that occurred on 11/18 in New London, CT,” Downtown Partnership spokesperson Megan Fazio told 8 News Now on Saturday.

The company released a statement, including words from Hsieh’s family. It reads:

“Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world. Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life.

On behalf of all DTP Companies employees and staff, we would like to express our deepest condolences to Tony’s family and friends who have all lost Tony as a cherished loved one, visionary and friend. Tony was highly regarded by all of his fellow friends and colleagues in the tight-knit family at DTP Companies, so this heartbreaking tragedy is one that affects many involved.

We ask that you continue to respect the family’s privacy during this most difficult and challenging time.”

DTP Companies and the Hsieh Family

Puoy Premsrirut, a lawyer for Hsieh, also told news outlets that Hsieh had been injured in a house fire while visiting Connecticut, the Associated Press reports. Additional details weren’t immediately released, and an official cause of death wasn’t announced.

Zappos released the following statement on Hsieh’s passing:

“It is with very heavy hearts that we are sharing some very sad news with all of you, as we have learned that Tony passed away earlier today (11-27-20). Though Tony retired this past summer, we know what a tremendous impact he has had on both Zappos and on Zapponians, as he has dedicated the past 20 years focusing on the success of both the company and our employees.

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.

Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, as his mantra was of “Delivering Happiness” to others. His spirit will forever be a part of Zappos, and we will continue to honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he was so passionate about.

We will be working on ways to celebrate Tony’s extraordinary life in the coming days. In the meantime, we invite you to share your memories of the ways he brightened your life – you can send them to CelebratingTony@zappos.com and we will share them with his family.

Our thoughts remain with him and his loved ones. Zappos is a family, and we will continue to hold Tony close in our hearts.”

Kedar Deshpande, Zappos CEO
Courtesy: Zappos.com

Megan Fazio later added:

“He was a humanitarian. A forward thinker who saw the happiness ahead of dollars. He bridged businesses, community and all walks of life towards the end.

Tony was a kind visionary. He helped revitalize DTLV and believed in people’s passions.

There is no human that met Tony and didn’t fall in love with his humanity.”

Hsieh was often called a visionary, but he didn’t start that way. He once said his passion for business didn’t begin with shoes, but with earthworms. When that didn’t pay off, he tried other things.

“Bought a bunch of them and thought I could produce more worms, but that didn’t work out,” Hsieh shared in an earlier interview. “They all escaped … There was the lemonade stand. There was the small mail order button business, where I would make the buttons that people would pin on.”

After graduating from Harvard, he created and sold a website with his roommate and made $265 million. After that, he invested that money into Zappos back in 1999.

The retailer, which started out purely selling shoes, expanded its empire to include everything from handbags to clothing and accessories. Headquarters were moved to Henderson in 2004, and Amazon eventually bought the company in 2009 for around $1.2 billion.

8 News Now’s Tedd Florendo got to speak with Hsieh back in 2012. They spoke about his goals and success. When asked if he considers himself ambitious, he replied:

“I guess I wouldn’t say ambitious. Just the type of person who gets bored easily.”

WATCH THE 2012 INTERVIEW:

Hsieh stepped down as Zappos’ CEO back in August 2020.

He also founded DTP in 2012. The initiative put $350 million into real estate, entertainment and tech startups around Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas.

“Tony Hsieh was a true visionary and champion of downtown Las Vegas. His purchase of the former city hall, his relocation of Zappos to downtown and his significant investment in businesses large and small throughout the area, were a spark and a catalyst for downtown revitalization. His Zappos and DTP teams continue to be active members of the Downtown Vegas Alliance, a consortium of downtown businesses, hosting many events on behalf of the organization. We are fortunate to have benefited from his leadership and support. The Downtown Vegas Alliance is forever grateful for his lasting imprint on and uplift to the area.”

Downtown Vegas Alliance

Gov. Steve Sisolak expressed his condolences in a tweet Friday night:

Derek Stevens, owner of two Downtown Las Vegas properties, tweeted:

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman also tweeted her condolences:

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