Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh Dies at 46, Honored in Las Vegas Tribute
Retired Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, an entrepreneur credited with helping revive downtown Las Vegas, died Friday from injuries in a house fire. He was 46.
Hsieh was honored Saturday night in the downtown Las Vegas casino district with a visual tribute displayed on the Fremont Street Experience lighted canopy.
The five-minute tribute featured images of Hsieh and the Eric Clapton song “Tears in Heaven.” The canopy covers a pedestrian mall on historic Fremont Street. The street, lined on both sides with casinos, is known as Glitter Gulch.
Casino owner Derek Stevens said Hsieh’s family asked him and his wife, Nicole, to take the lead in putting the tribute together, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Stevens owns three resorts on Fremont Street — the Golden Gate, D Las Vegas, and Circa Resort. Circa opened last month. It is the first hotel-casino built from the ground up in downtown Las Vegas in 40 years.
Stevens also is seen as helping transform the downtown area, which had fallen on hard times during the economic downturn more than a decade ago.
Supporting this City and the people within it, Tony Hsieh changed the landscape of Downtown Las Vegas,” Stevens said in a tweet.
At news of Hsieh’s death, public officials and institutions throughout Southern Nevada responded on social media sites.
The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas tweeted that Hsieh “was a longtime friend and tremendous supporter of the Museum and incredibly passionate about the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas.”
“We will miss him dearly,” the museum tweeted.
Boost to Downtown Las Vegas
In his mid-20s, the Illinois-born Hsieh sold an online marketing firm, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million in stock.
In 1999, a decade after selling LinkExchange, the Harvard University graduate invested in a startup online shoe retailer, ShoeSite.com, later named Zappos, according to the Associated Press.
Amazon bought Zappos in 2009 for $1.2 billion. Hsieh stayed on with the company, whose core values include “be humble” and “create fun and a little weirdness.”
For a while, Hsieh lived in Las Vegas in an Airstream trailer.
In 2013, Hsieh moved the Zappos headquarters into a building that once served as Las Vegas City Hall. During this period, Hsieh pledged $350 million to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, according to the Associated Press.
Hsieh recently retired after 20 years at the company’s helm and purchased homes in the snow-skiing resort town of Park City, Utah.
Hsieh died from injuries in a fire at a waterfront home on Nov. 18 in New London, Connecticut. He had been in Connecticut with his brother at the time, according to news accounts.
New London Fire Chief Thomas Curcio told The Day newspaper that firefighters arrived at the home around 3:30 am and discovered “somebody trapped in a portion of the house.” This person reportedly was suffering from possible burns and smoke inhalation.
The chief said firefighters “had to force entry. They removed the victim, started CPR, and transported him to the hospital.”
The victim, whose name was not immediately released, ultimately was taken to the Connecticut Burn Center in Bridgeport, about 65 miles from New London, according to news accounts.
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