Ecommerce shoe pioneer Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos.com, has died from injuries sustained in a Connecticut house fire, sources tell CELEB Magazine.

The story of Hsieh’s passing broke late Friday night, November 27, across multiple news outlets, gripping the tech world and Las Vegas–two communities that looked at the entrepreneur as a visionary. He was 46 years old.   

What We Know

Sources tell CELEB Magazine that the fire took place in New London, Connecticut on November 18 and that the internet guru had been hospitalized on the east coast with serious injuries since the blaze.

New London’s newspaper The Day reported a fire on November 18, but did not name the injured person. About the fire they said, “one person was hospitalized with serious injuries sustained early Wednesday [Nov. 18] at 500 Pequot Ave. New London firefighters were called to the scene of the waterfront home at 3:34 a.m. Fire officials said one person was removed from the home and taken by ambulance for treatment at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. The victim, suffering from possible burns and smoke inhalation, later was flown to Bridgeport Hospital, which is home to the Connecticut Burn Center.”

Tony Hsieh

The Official Statement

The Las Vegas Review-Journal shared this statement from Megan Fazio, spokeswoman for Hsieh’s DTP Companies, but did not comment on cause of death.

“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. On behalf of all DTP Companies employees and staff, we would like to express our deepest condolences to Tony’s family and friends who have all lost Tony as a cherished loved one, visionary and friend. Tony was highly regarded by all of his fellow friends and colleagues in the tight-knit family at DTP Companies, so this heartbreaking tragedy is one that affects many involved.”

Right after the pandemic struck, Hsieh left Las Vegas and set up camp in Park City, Utah. Along with him, he brought his inner circle. In August, he abruptly stepped down as Zappos CEO. That was followed by the purchase of tens of millions of dollars in homes in the quaint ski town that hosts the Sundance film festival. Rumors swirled as to the reason why he left the company after 21 years and many started to speculate about his erratic behavior. 

The Tony Hsieh Legacy

Zappos was sold to Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion. After the sale, he pumped close to $350 million into the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas. Relocating his company to the former City Hall building, he built apartment buildings, funded the Life is Beautiful Music & Art festival and wooed numerous startups and entrepreneurs to the area under the umbrella of what he called the Downtown Project. As the ringleader of it all, he lived in an Airstream and tiny home village with two alpacas as pets.

Hsieh was known for his “Delivering Happiness” philosophy, which he also wrote about in a book of the same name. It served as a modern business model where “work was home and home was work.” But cracks started to surface as many of the businesses crumbled or never took off. By 2014, several key members of the Downtown Project committed suicide as reported by Vox’s Recode, which led to questioning as to whether Hsieh’s overwhelming emphasis on culture, partying and socializing guised around the core values of “connectedness, co-learning and collisions” had led to cult-like behaviors from him and his followers. 

His inner circle was known for elaborate trips to Burning Man, traveling by tour bus to events around the city and wild Fernet-fueled parties. The cynicism that developed Hsieh’s magnetic lifestyle and charismatic business principles was documented in Aimee’s Groth 2017 exposé The Kingdom of Happiness: Inside Tony Hsieh’s Zapponian Utopia.

Ultimately, Hsieh will be remembered as a pioneer in ecommerce, revolutionizing customer service, and for his unwavering dedication to the Las Vegas community.

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