Tony Hsieh, 'visionary' behind Zappos shoe retailer, dies aged 46

Tony Hsieh, the “visionary” developer of online shoe retailer Zappos who spearheaded the transformation of downtown Las Vegas in recent years, has died at the age of 46.

According to his lawyer Puoy Premsrirut, Hsieh was injured in a house fire in Connecticut while visiting relatives over Thanksgiving. He died on Friday “peacefully and surrounded by family”, according to a statement from DTP Companies, the organization he founded in 2012 as an umbrella for the revitalization program.

A DTP spokeswoman, Megan Fazio, gave no other details of the incident, but paid tribute to Hsieh, who retired from Zappos in August after 21 years as its chief executive.

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

Hsieh, who was born in Illinois to Taiwanese parents, was an internet pioneer, developing a banner advertisement company in 1996 soon after graduating from Harvard University with a degree in computer science.

The sale of LinkExchange to Microsoft allowed him to become a venture capitalist for technology startups, including Zappos, which he and Harvard classmate Alfred Lin transformed from a small business selling shoes online to a $1.2bn company by the time of its acquisition by Amazon in 2019.

Hsieh remained chief executive for another year, but his passions lay elsewhere, particularly efforts to transform downtown Las Vegas into a cutting edge 21st-century city at the heart of the technological revolution.

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He invested $350m of his money into DTP Companies, which in turn attracted a wealth of entertainment, dining and housing projects to previously rundown areas of the city.

“Supporting his city and the people within it, Tony Hsieh changed the landscape of downtown Las Vegas,” hotelier Derek Stevens said on Twitter.

“Our community will miss him greatly, rest in peace. I will miss him greatly.”

Tony Hawk, the skateboard star who also became an entrepreneurial investor, called Hsieh “a true pioneer”.

“[He] was a visionary. He was generous with his time and willing to share his invaluable expertise with anyone. And he was very, very cool,” Hawk wrote.

Hsieh, who moved Zappos to Nevada in 2013, resided primarily in downtown Las Vegas, and owned a country retreat in the Southern Highlands development south of the city popular with celebrities and sports professionals.

His 2010 book Delivering Happiness spent more than half a year at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.


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