kottke.org posts about Tony Hsieh

Why Zappos sold to AmazonJun 16 2010

Zappos' CEO Tony Hsieh on why he sold his company to Amazon. Bascially most of Zappos' board of directors didn't approve of Hsieh's focus on employee and customer happiness at the short term expense of profits.

I left Seattle pretty sure that Amazon would be a better partner for Zappos than our current board of directors or any other outside investor. Our board wanted an immediate exit; we wanted to build an enduring company that would spread happiness. With Amazon, it seemed that Zappos could continue to build its culture, brand, and business. We would be free to be ourselves.

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The Zappos movementSep 18 2009

From last week's New Yorker, a snapshot of the cult of Zappos just before the Amazon acquisition. I found it somewhat odd that the CEO, Tony Hsieh, doesn't particularly care about the products his company sells:

"I've never been into shoes -- and I'm still not," he said. Zappos has begun to expand from shoes, as Amazon did from its base of books, into other categories of merchandise: handbags, clothes. "Kitchenware, housewares, whatever," Hsieh said. But he's not really interested in those things, either. "I much prefer experiences to stuff," he said.

Hsieh also doesn't downplay the cultish aspects of the company either (unintentionally or not):

Though he has become increasingly visible as the face of Zappos and spends almost all his time proselytizing its culture, Hsieh resists the idea that he is powerful, or that the perpetuation of the brand rests on his shoulders. "For any company or movement or religion or whatever, if there's one person that personifies it then that puts that company or vision at risk, if the person, say, dies," he said. "What's gonna happen to Apple if something happens with Steve Jobs? That's why it needs to be about a movement, not about a person or even a specific company."

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