Obituary: Tony Hsieh, Former CEO of Zappos

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During his two decades leading online shoe retailer Zappos, known as ShoeSite.com when he joined in 1999, Tony Hsieh was described as the architect of a movement to spread happiness, of “Zappiness,” through the three “C”s of clothing, customer service and company culture. Throughout his career, the Harvard graduate, entrepreneur and visionary was seen as an inspiration to both investors and the start-up community.

Hsieh recently retired from Zappos, which was sold to Amazon in 1999 for 10 million shares of the online behemoth and $40 million cash in 2009. (The deal was valued at $1.2 billion at the time.) Hsieh passed away last week from injuries sustained in a Nov. 18th Connecticut house fire. He was 46. Immediately, Twitter tributes to him from all walks of life poured in.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Hsieh dedicated $350 million in proceeds from the Zappos’ sale to regenerate a neglected downtown Las Vegas with technology and other business investments. The effort included moving Zappos’ headquarters to the former Las Vegas City Hall building.

“Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life,” Downtown Partnership Companies (DTP) said in a statement after his death. “The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being. His spirit will forever be a part of Zappos.”

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