Tony Hsieh, who developed the online organization Zappos into probably the biggest retailer of shoes on the Internet, passed on Friday subsequent to being harmed in a house fire. He was 46.
“The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being,” Zappos CEO Kedar Deshpande said in a statement. “We recognize that not only have we lost our inspiring former leader, but many of you have also lost a mentor and a friend.”
Megan Fazio, a representative for Hsieh’s side endeavor, DTP Cos., told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Hsieh passed on from wounds continued in a house fire in Connecticut. A neighborhood CBS subsidiary revealed that Hsieh kicked the bucket calmly in Connecticut, encircled by family.
Hsieh moved on from Harvard University during the 90s with a degree in software engineering. While working at Oracle, Hsieh and a school flat mate made a business called LinkExchange to assist organizations with purchasing ads on sites. In 1998, during the prime of the website bubble, they offered the organization to Microsoft for $265 million. That gave subsidizing to what came straightaway.
“I’m actually not passionate about shoes at all,” Hsieh told NPR’s How I Built This in 2017. What he was passionate about, Hsieh said, was customer service and company culture. That’s one of the reasons he sold LinkExchange, he said: At some point the company grew so large that the corporate culture changed, and no longer appealed to Hsieh, an introvert.
With his newfound wealth, Hsieh started an incubator to invest in other companies. One day, he got a voicemail from the founder of Zappos, Nick Swinmurn, who had an idea for selling shoes online. It was one of the numerous random pitches Hsieh was getting every day, and he almost deleted the email.
“It seemed like the poster child of bad Internet ideas,” Hsieh said: Who would actually buy shoes without seeing them in person?
But Swinmurn intrigued Hsieh with two facts: First, footwear was a $40 billion industry in the United States. Second, mail-order catalogs were, at the time, the fastest-growing segment of the footwear industry in the country.
That was “clear proof that people are going to remotely try on shoes,” Hsieh said. He spent the next 20 years leading the shoe seller to enormous success as CEO.