Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh Dies at 46: 'A Tremendous Visionary and an Incredible Human Being'

Ally Mauch
·3-min read

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Tony Hsieh, the recently retired CEO of Zappos, died on Friday. He was 46.

Though a cause of death was not confirmed, his lawyer, Puoy Premsrirut, told the Reno Gazette Journal that Hsieh sustained injuries from a house fire while visiting Connecticut. He died surrounded by family, according to a statement to PEOPLE from DTP Companies, which Hsieh founded.

“Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world,” the statement said. “Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life.”

DTP spokesperson Megan Fazio told KLAS-TV that Hsieh died while still in Connecticut.

“He was a humanitarian. A forward thinker who saw the happiness ahead of dollars. He bridged businesses, community and all walks of life towards the end,” she said. “There is no human that met Tony and didn’t fall in love with his humanity.”

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Hsieh joined Zappos in 1999, four years after graduating from Harvard University. Though the website, originally called ShoeSite.com, was sold to Amazon in 2009, Hsieh stayed on with the company until his retirement in August.

“The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being,” the new CEO, Kedar Deshpande, said in a Friday statement. “We recognize that not only have we lost our inspiring former leader, but many of you have also lost a mentor and a friend. Tony played such an integral part in helping create the thriving Zappos business we have today, along with his passion for helping to support and drive our company culture.”

In addition to his work at Zappos, Hsieh was committed to revitalizing downtown Las Vegas. In 2013, he both moved Zappos’ headquarters to the Nevada city and pledged $350 million for redevelopment, according to the Associated Press.

“Tony Hsieh played a pivotal role in helping transform Downtown Las Vegas,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak tweeted. “Kathy and I send our love and condolences to Tony’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

A series of other leaders and entrepreneurs also paid tribute to Hsieh in the hours following his death.

“Tony Hsieh might be the most original thinker I’ve ever been friends with,” former investor and Shark Tank star Chris Sacca wrote on Twitter. “He questioned every assumption and shared everything he learned along the way. He genuinely delighted in making anyone and everyone happy.”

“Tony Hsieh was a visionary,” skateboarder Tony Hawk added. “He was generous with his time and willing to share his invaluable expertise with anyone.”