Tony Hsieh, the former head of Zappos who catapulted the shoe company into the big leagues with a sale to Amazon and then used the proceeds of his success in a huge project kickstarting regeneration of a run-down part of Las Vegas, Nevada, with tech and wider business investments, has died at the age of 46.
The cause was injuries he sustained from a house fire, a spokesperson for Hsieh confirmed to TechCrunch. He was with his brother in Connecticut at the time of the fire. It's not clear if anyone else was injured.
The ultimate cause of Hsieh's death is still under investigation. We will update this as and if we learn more. The full statement from DTP Companies, which ran the Downtown Project (Hsieh's mammoth initiative to regenerate the very run-down, older part of Las Vegas) is below.
The news has sent shock waves in the midst of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and through a community in a city -- heavily dependent on tourism -- that has been hit extraordinarily hard by the Covid-19 global health pandemic.
Hsieh was a brilliant, offbeat, and -- to many people, often very directly -- kind-hearted person who was regularly described as a visionary.
That was not an overstatement. Growing up in the Bay Area, he sold his first company -- a marketing tech firm called LinkExchange -- to Microsoft when he was just 24, in 1998.
Using some of the proceeds from that, he formed a venture capital firm called Venture Frogs. One of his early investments there was ShoeSite. com, founded in 1999 by Nick Swinmurn at a time when the latter could see a shift happening in how people were shopping for footwear, doing a lot more of it online.
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