Industry Pioneers React to Death of Zappos Founder Tony Hsieh
Investors, journalists, politicians, tech founders and retail industry pioneers have all paid tribute to Tony Hsieh, the well-known founder of Zappos.com, after his death was announced this past weekend. Hsieh died on Nov. 27 at 46 from injuries sustained during a house fire in Connecticut, according to multiple reports. In 2009, Amazon acquired Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, for $1.2 billion. Hsieh was involved with Zappos for two decades before he retired, continuing in the role after the sale to Amazon. He stepped down in August.
"The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being," Zappos CEO Kedar Deshpande said in a 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."
Among those posting tributes to Hsieh on social media included Ivanka Trump; former presidential candidate Andrew Yang; Recode Founder Kara Swisher; Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak; Jeff Bezos; Kenneth Cole; Dave Powers, president and CEO, Deckers Brands; and Blake Krueger CEO and chairman of Wolverine World Wide.
Total Retail's Take: It's not surprising to read all of the tributes and outpouring of affection on social media for Hsieh, especially since happiness was a big part of his brand and simply who he was. Many retailers described memorable meetings with Hsieh and the good experiences they had with Zappos when he was at the helm. For example, JuE Wong, CEO of Olaplex, discussed on LinkedIn how after reading Hsieh's book, "Delivering Happiness," which discussed Zappos' philosophy to go above and beyond in customer service, she called Zappos when she was stuck in an airport hotel with no charger and no one at the hotel could help her. After making the call, Wong said, Zappos’ customer service team contacted a local Radio Shack and had them deliver a charger to her hotel.
"I am saddened to learn of Tony Hsieh’s untimely passing," Wong wrote. "He has left us all a legacy of what customer service could and should be. May you RIP, Tony." Indeed, Hsieh's brand of customer service is one that all retailers should strive for.