Tony Hsieh | Photo courtesy of Zappos

Tony Hsieh | Photo courtesy of Zappos


Newsmakers 2020: Tony Hsieh, Beloved Innovator, Dies From Injuries Sustained During Fire

Tony Hsieh, the pioneering entrepreneur who was the former chief executive of the retail giant, died Nov. 27 after succumbing to injuries from a fire at a house in New London, Conn. Medical examiners have ruled his death an accident, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, media accounts recently noted that Hsieh had been troubled during the last years of his life and was considering checking into a recovery center to fight substance-abuse issues.

It was a sad end for Hsieh, 46, who had been considered a major innovator. He was among the first wave of entrepreneurs who pioneered e-commerce into becoming one of the dominant forces of retail. At Zappos, he developed a unique culture where workers were encouraged to make time for whimsy and personal growth. The company culture also supported a customer-service creed that embraced friendly and sincere talks with consumers and was credited with making Zappos a more-than-$1-billion retailer.

While the end of his life is being reevaluated, remembrances of Hsieh were fond and heartfelt.

Designer Kenneth Cole posted this memory on his personal Instagram: “I was always inspired by my friend Tony Hsieh...he had a unique ability to reimagine how business could be done, how to connect people in the process, and on how to make a meaningful & sustainable difference.”

Former President Bill Clinton tweeted, “I treasure every conversation I ever had with Tony Hsieh. He was fascinating, brilliant, and inspiring, and his unwavering efforts to spread happiness—and enthusiasm for mentoring young entrepreneurs—touched countless lives for the better.”