Born With The Entrepreneurial Spirit – CEO Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh

A brief introduction first – Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) year 1999, age 24, sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million!

Tony Hsieh – The Beginning Delivering pizzas to Harvard dorms

Hsieh grew up in San Francisco the son of Taiwanese immigrants. After graduating from The Branson School in Marin County, California, Tony went on to Harvard where earned a degree in Computer Science in 1995.

While at Harvard, Hsieh’s entrepreneurial spirit first started to appear. He managed the Quincy House Grille and for an extra fee would deliver pizzas to Harvard dorms at a time when delivery was not an option. After college, Hsieh spent five months at Oracle, but quickly became discouraged working in a corporate environment. So at the age of 22, he struck out on his own and founded LinkExchange, one of the internet’s earliest ad networks, in 1996.

Tony Hsieh

Linkexchange Experienced Explosive Growth Right From The Launch

The company launched in March 1996 with Hsieh as CEO. LinkExchange experienced explosive growth right from the launch, having found a niche market at just the right time. By 1998, the site had over 400,000 members with five million ads rotating each day. In 1999, Microsoft came calling and plunked down a cool $265 million to buy the company. Just weeks before his 25th birthday, Tony Hsieh was extremely rich.

Tony Hsieh Joins Zappos As An Advisor

In 1999, as Hsieh was turning 26, he and Lin were approached with the idea of selling shoes online. At first, Hsieh was not convinced that this was even a remotely viable idea. But, after learning that the footwear industry in the U.S. (at the time) was a $40 billion market, with almost no sales occurring through the internet, he changed his mind.

In 2000, Hsieh joined Zappos as CEO. One of his first decisions was to relocated Zappos corporate headquarters to Las Vegas, citing the relatively reasonable cost of labor and real estate compared to the San Francisco Bay area. In his first year as CEO, Zappos earned an impressive $1.6 million in revenue. Nine years later, Zappos’s revenues had grown to over $1 billion per year.

 Tony Hsieh

Zappos Amazing Corporate Culture

Along the way, Zappos started to earn a reputation for having amazing corporate culture that focused acutely on employee happiness and providing the best customer service of any retailer. Zappos’ internal culture is governed by what Hsieh calls ” Zappos Family Core Values.” They are:

1. Deliver WOW Through Service

2. Embrace and Drive Change

3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

5. Pursue Growth and Learning

6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

8. Do More With Less

9. Be Passionate and Determined

10. Be Humble


Amazon Acquired Zappos For $1.2 Billion

On July 22, 2009 Amazon acquired Zappos for $1.2 billion worth of stock. Hsieh is said to have made at least $214 million from the sale. This figure does not include revenue through his investment in Zappos through Venture Frogs.

In 2010, Hsieh released his book Delivering Happiness, a book detailing his entrepreneurial adventures. The book debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and stayed on the list for 27 consecutive weeks.

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh, at 39-years-old, has had vastly more success in business than most people ever will in their lifetimes. He is self-made, has an uncanny ability to hop on trends just before they hit the mainstream, and his focus on great customer service and having happy employees is a testament to his character.

Conan O’Brien once said “If you work really hard and are kind, good things will happen.”

Tony Hsieh seems to have perfected this principal and along the way earned a nice little $450 million fortune.

Information Source –

Related posts

Leave a Comment