RIP to one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation whose vision, kindness, generosity, and emphasis on culture & community was unparalleled.
Tony Hsieh has passed away at the age of 46 due to injuries he sustained in a fire. His legacy won’t be online advertising (LinkExchange) or e-commerce (Zappos), but rather servant leadership style of management and leadership and striving for work/life/play balance.
Hsieh’s emphasis on sustainability, service, culture and community stood out during a decade where the business and tech media focused on the blitzscaling nature of heavily-funded, break-things-ask-questions-later mindset permeated by the bro culture investors were underwriting.
While the world became mesmerized with Travis Kalanick’s at Uber, Adam Neumann’s at Wework, Hsieh had already cashed in his chips by selling Zappos for over a billion dollars to Amazon. By opting for stock, his fortune soared far above the price tag Zappos fetched.
Throughout the 2010s, he built and reinvigorated a literal, physical, real world community: he moved Zappos to Las Vegas to build a bigger customer service operation, run under a particularly strong ethos of flat management aimed at empowering and inspiring employees.
Those results were mixed, but his legacy and impact will only grow clearer over time.
Under his leadership, Zappos switched to a bottom-up, individual-focused management style: Holacracy, which was known for doing away with traditional hierarchies and titles. Rather, he relied on a community-style leadership. While Zappos and Hsieh moved away from Holacracy, those tenets remained vital and influential to a new breed of leaders.
He wasn’t just a brilliant visionary entrepreneur who built and sold two startups to Seattle stalwarts Microsoft and Amazon; his emphasis on culture, community, service and generous nature made him a great human being.
“Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life.”