Technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist Tony Hesheh, who built a billion-dollar Internet footwear and clothing powerhouse, died on Friday. He was 46.
New London, on November 18, suffered injuries due to a fire at a house in Conn. According to Megan Fazio, spokesperson for the Downtown Project in Las Vegas, a revival effort, which was Mr. Hesheh Oversaw.
Mr. Hesheh (clearly embarrassed) was clearly visiting the family at the time. His death was confirmed by Zapos with a statement by the company’s chief executive officer Kedar Deshpande. More information about the fire or about Mr. Heshe’s death was not immediately available.
Mr. Hesheh stepped in as chief executive in August after 21 years with the company, which began selling shoes online in 1999.
In 1998, LinkExchange, an online advertising network, sold its first company to Microsoft for $ 265 million, Mr. Hsieh became a venture capitalist and invested in a San Francisco-based retail shoe start-up, then called ShoSight.com Gone.
He quickly took over as CEO and focused his efforts on making the company an Internet giant. (The name was changed to Zappos.com, according to the company’s website, an adaptation of the Spanish word for shoes “Zapatos”.)
In the nascent era of Internet commerce, Mr. Heshi was a visionary who realized that making customers feel comfortable and safe shopping online is the key to success and growth.
To do this, employees in call centers had to engage customers as if talking to an old friend, with an authentic-sounding welcoming banquet. He also felt that buyers needed to try on the shoes, so Zappos offered overnight shipping and free return shipping, often sending customers several pairs at a time.
Mr. Heshey surprised the Silicon Valley world by moving the company from San Francisco to a suburb of Las Vegas, where he created a “fun and slightly weird” culture, resulting in skyrocketing growth.
From $ 1.6 million in sales in 2000, Zappos surpassed $ 1 billion in revenue by 2009. In July 2009, Mr. Hsieh sold the company to Amazon for $ 1.2 billion.
Soft-spoken and introspective executive officer Mr. Hische developed a business philosophy built around the idea that happy employees were fit to satisfy customers who return frequently.
An avid reader, he wrote a best-selling book, “Delivering Happiness” in 2010, describing his customer service philosophy.
During his tenure at Japos, Mr. Heshey initiated the Downtown Project, which aimed to rejuvenate the once neglected city of Las Vegas and transform it into a vibrant area where Japos employees lived. The effort grew beyond Mr. Heshe’s original concept and the region attracted thousands of technology workers and entrepreneurs.
Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada wrote on Twitter, “Tony Hsieh was instrumental in transforming downtown Las Vegas.”
Tony Heshey was born on December 12, 1973 in Illinois to Richard and Judy Hesheh, Taiwanese immigrants who met in graduate school at the University of Illinois. His father was a chemical engineer and his mother was a social worker.
The family moved to California when Tony was 5. He was the eldest of three boys, he grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Survivors include her parents and her brothers Andy and Dave, Ms. Fazio said.
Mr. Heshe graduated from Harvard in computer science in 1995 and after a short stint at Oracle Corporation, he co-founded LinkExchange.
With the idea of selling footwear online accepted by Nick Swinmarn in 1999, Mr. Hesih overcame initial investment and invested. As the concept gained traction, it considered ways to promote growth.
In a 2009 profile in Briefing magazine, Mr. Heshey described himself as a lifelong skeptic who highlighted psychology and philosophy. But his computer science background led him to believe that happiness can be studied as a science. Instead of achieving happiness she is disgusted, she began to read about the specific characteristics that make people happy.
People believe that achieving a certain goal or winning the lottery will bring lasting happiness, he said, but it rarely happens. “Much of the framework for happiness concludes that four things are needed: perceived control, perceived progress, connectivity (depth of relationships) and being part of something greater than ourselves.”
To that end, he argued that building a culture based on these principles would give Zappos a long-term success. The company attracted refugees from the gaming and hospitality industries in Las Vegas, as well as both technology types.
Japos was extremely choosy, employing only 1 percent of applicants. Word quickly spread about corporate culture, and people started showing up at the company’s headquarters to take tours.
Over time, Mr. Hesheh pushed forward the culture envelope. In 2013, he announced that the company would end all titles and managers to embrace a “holistic” structure. There was an appeal in a world without owners, but not for everyone. A few hundred employees, or 14 percent of the work force, uncomfortable in that structure, accepted a purchase and left.
Mr. Hesheh refused to adopt the trap of a traditional chief executive officer. He lived in a 240-square-foot airstream trailer in a small trailer park that he built in the city of Las Vegas.
He insisted on a $ 36,000 annual salary and sat in a baseless room, among other employees. When Zappos set up a new warehouse in Kentucky, he packed a pickup truck with the materials, left for Kentucky and started working together with shelves and unpacking shoes.
Amazon had contacted Mr. Hesih about the acquisition in 2005 and Mr. Heeshe refused. But in 2008, with the downturn in the economy, Amazon made a second overrate and this time the Zappos board insisted that Mr. Heshih take the offer. There was a feeling among some board members that Mr. Hesieh’s business philosophy was made for good public relations, but would not promote growth in a difficult economy.
While visiting Amazon Chairman Jeff Bezos in Seattle, Mr. Hesheh was impressed by the similarities in the two corporate cultures and, by Mr. Bezos, proposing that Japos would work with the same management team as an independent entity.
In a video welcoming Bezos employees, Mr. Bezos said, “When I see a customer-centric company and Zappos definitely gets weaker, that’s for sure.” “I’ve seen a lot of companies and I’ve never seen a culture like Japos.”
Christina Morales contributed reporting.