Monday, November 30, 2020

Tony Hsieh, RIP

Katie Abel (via Hacker News):

Tony Hsieh, the brilliant and big-hearted luminary who revolutionized the shoe business and built one of the most innovative companies in modern history, has died. He was 46.


After Zappos co-founder Nick Swinmurn latched onto the idea of selling shoes online, he left a voicemail with Hsieh’s San Francisco venture capital fund, Venture Frogs, hooking him with one factoid: “It was the fact that 5 percent of a $40 billion shoe business was already being done through mail order,” Swinmurn told FN during a 2009 interview. “That was my big statistic. People were already buying shoes without trying them on.”

Om Malik:

Tony’s passing has taken me down a memory lane to the earliest days of the Internet when we were all very young and innocent. Tony, then, only 23, had started work on LinkExchange, an early banner ad-exchange network that launched in early 1996.


With Tony’s passing, I feel something special has ended. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe a certain innocent aspect of the early possibilities of the Internet. Maybe I feel the contrast of those days to a now that is more mercenary, less friendly, and more polarized. Whatever, without knowing Tony as well as I should, I mourn him deeply.


Tony and Zappos’ biggest achievement was that it showed long before everyone else: you can build an Internet company anywhere. Unlike so many pundits and Twitterati, it didn’t take a pandemic for Tony to have that insight. Zappos was also an example of how tech companies could care about their customers and not treat them as data.

John Gruber:

The outpouring of love and admiration for Hsieh from those who knew him is just remarkable.

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