Former Zappos Boss and Downtown Las Vegas Rejuvenator Tony Hsieh Dies

  • Hsieh died on Friday from injuries he sustained in a November 18 house fire
  • The Illinois native resigned as chief executive of Zappos in August after 21 years
  • Hsieh invested $350m of his own money into helping rejuvenate downtown Las Vegas
  • The “Downtown Project” invests in startups, restaurants, and other ventures
Tony Hsieh
Former Zappos chief executive Tony Hsieh died Friday from injuries sustained in a house fire. Hsieh invested hundreds of millions of dollars to revitalize downtown Las Vegas. [Image: Flickr.com]

Deadly house fire

Tony Hsieh, the former chief executive of online shoe retailer Zappos and a key driver of revitalization efforts in downtown Las Vegas has died. The 46-year-old passed away from injuries suffered in a house fire while visiting family in New London, Connecticut.

A spokesperson from the parent company for Hsieh’s Las Vegas revitalization project, DTP Companies, confirmed the death of the former Zappos chief executive. He died peacefully on Friday, surrounded by family. There were no further details given about the November 18 incident or his injuries.

Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him”

The Illinois native retired from Zappos in August after acting as chief executive for 21 years. The DTP statement read, in part: “Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him and forever brightened the world.”

Efforts in Las Vegas

While Hsieh remained as the Zappos chief executive after selling the company to Amazon for $1.2bn in 2009, one of his main passions was the transformation of downtown Las Vegas. His aim was to turn the area into a cutting-edge modern city at the forefront of the technological revolution. The area struggled for years following the Great Recession.

He invested $350m into DTP Companies, which helped attract an array of housing, dining, and entertainment projects to the downtown area that was previously a rundown part of Las Vegas. 

This “Downtown Project” helped fund many great startups and restaurants. By 2017, the project had accumulated about 90 properties. Hsieh also moved the Zappos headquarters into the former Las Vegas City Hall building in 2013 and he mainly resided locally.

Expressing their sympathies

A number of notable people acknowledged the tragic loss on social media. Hotelier and fellow downtown Las Vegas visionary Derek Stevens took to Twitter to say that the local community will miss him greatly. Highlighting the role Hsieh played in the city, Stevens said: “Supporting his city and the people within it, Tony Hsieh changed the landscape of downtown Las Vegas.” 

Amazon CEO and president Jeff Bezos posted on Instagram about the tragedy, saying: “Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark.”

Ivanka Trump took to Twitter to express her condolences regarding the loss of her “dear friend”:

Other notable people to express their sorrow at the death of Hsieh include Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, entrepreneur and skateboarder Tony Hawk, and former venture capital investor Chris Sacca. There was a memorial for Hsieh during the Fremont Street Experience’s Viva Vision video canopy on Saturday night.