Tony Hsieh, the retired CEO of an online shoe mega-retailer, passed away over the weekend. He was 46.
WORLDteen featured Hsieh in its September/October issue. (See “Think Outside the [Shoe] Box.”) To many, Hsieh was a visionary. He believed in happy, hassle-free shoe buying—including buying just one shoe or shoes of different sizes.
Hseih’s family was with him when he passed away on Friday. He died of injuries suffered in a November 18 fire in his New London, Connecticut, home.
Hsieh was a Harvard University graduate who helped found ShoeSite.com in 1999. The company quickly rebranded as Zappos.com (derived from the Spanish word for shoes, “zapatos”).
Hsieh recently retired from the company he made extremely successful. He led Zappos for 20 years and sold it to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009 but remained with the company until his retirement.
“The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being,” a statement from officials at Zappos said. “His spirit will forever be a part of Zappos.”
“Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world,” a DTP Companies statement said. “Delivering happiness was always his mantra.”
For years, Hsieh also worked to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, pledging $350 million in 2013 for redevelopment. The same year he moved Zappos’ headquarters into the former Las Vegas City Hall building.
“Tony Hsieh played a pivotal role in helping transform Downtown Las Vegas,” Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak tweeted Friday night.
Hsieh had a reputation as a generous, kind, happy leader. His character reminds one of Proverbs 22:1: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” and “a joyful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)
Indeed, tributes to Hsieh’s good name and happy spirit have poured in on social media. “Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and president, posted on Instagram. “You will be missed by so many.”
Skateboarder and entrepreneur Tony Hawk added, “Tony Hsieh was a visionary. He was generous with his time and willing to share his invaluable expertise with anyone.”
“A truly original thinker, a brilliant entrepreneur, and a kind-hearted and generous friend to so many,” tweeted entrepreneur Max Levchin.
“Tony Hsieh might be the most original thinker I’ve ever been friends with,” former venture investor Chris Sacca tweeted. “He questioned every assumption and shared everything he learned along the way. He genuinely delighted in making anyone and everyone happy.”
(Tony Hsieh speaks in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)