Tony Hsieh Contemporary Leader Essay

2354 Words May 20th, 2013 10 Pages
Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com

Zappos is an online shoe and merchandise retailer that grew from a startup company in a San Francisco apartment to become a billion dollar company within a decade, while also being consistently ranked as one of the top companies to work for the past five (5) years. Zappos has 1,243 employees and had revenue of $2.2 billion in 2011. While the company cut 1,670 jobs in 2011, there was no voluntary turnover and more than 46,000 job applicants. (Vellota, 2013) This was accomplished by making good business decisions and adhering to a set of core values that everyone is expected to commit to. Amazon acquired Zappos in 2009 for $920 million, yet, it continues to operate independently to maintain their unique
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(Hsieh, 2010) In 1999, Nick Swinmurn was walking around a mall in San Francisco looking to purchase a pair of shoes. He went home empty-handed after walking from store to store. He tried looking for shoes online and was unsuccessful. He found a number of small stores selling shoes online; however, there was no major online retailer than specialized in shoes. Nick decided to quit his job and start an online shoe retail business. His idea was to create a website that offered a large selection of shoe brands, styles, sizes and widths. He called it shoerite.com. Swinmurn arranged a meeting with Tony Hsieh and Alfred Lin, investors who owned Venture Frogs, and pitched his idea. Hsieh was intrigued by Swinmurn’s statistic of “footwear in the United States is a $40 billion market, and 5% of that market was already being sold by paper mail order catalogs.” (Hsieh, 2010) Since, Nick knew little about buying shoes, except for his own personal use, and not a thing about selling them, Hsieh sent him away in search of two things; someone who know about buying and selling shoes and a better name. Nick returned with Fred Mossler, who worked in the shoe department at Nordstrom’s, and a name, Zappos.com. Zappos was derived from the Spanish word, zapato, which means “shoe”. Hsieh was taken by Nick and Fred’s passion, took a “leap” of fate, and decided to invest in them. Two months later, in 2000, Tony Hsieh joined Zappos as their Chief Executive Officer (CEO). (Harnish,

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