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Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, champion of downtown Las Vegas, retires

Updated August 24, 2020 - 9:42 pm

Tony Hsieh has stepped down as CEO of Zappos.com.

Hsieh retired from the Las Vegas-based online retailer after 20 years at the helm, company spokeswoman Laura Davis confirmed Monday.

Chief Operating Officer Kedar Deshpande is set to take over as CEO, effective Monday.

“Everything Tony did in helping rebuild downtown was energized, mesmerizing and exciting for our city,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said Monday. “He’s a modest person. He’s not a braggart, but he loves to do things that are different and challenging. When everyone is swimming downstream, he is swimming upstream.”

Goodman said she has not spoken directly to Hseih about his plans.

“I hope he’ll resurface in Las Vegas. He really has taken a leadership role in this city,” she said.

Hsieh, 46, a Harvard University graduate, joined the online shoe company in 1999, initially skeptical that the venture could be successful. It was sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009, but he remained with the company and has a residence in downtown Las Vegas.

In 2012, he invested $350 million into revitalizing downtown Las Vegas, developing the popular Container Park with its fire-breathing praying mantis art sculpture at the entrance. About 60 percent of the $350 million Downtown Project budget focused on real estate, while $50 million each was meant for small businesses, tech startups and education, arts and culture.

Among other things, the Downtown Project owned shuttered motels and partnered with Arizona developer the Wolff Co. to build Fremont9, a five-story, 232-unit apartment complex that recently opened.

In 2018, Hsieh renamed the Downtown Project DTP Companies.

Zappos.com initially was named “ShoeSite.com” and was headquartered in a Green Valley business park in Henderson. In 2013, the company moved out of Henderson and took over the building formerly housing City Hall in downtown Las Vegas.

Brian “Paco” Alvarez, the company’s former art curator and corporate historian, said of Hsieh, “He made me the entrepreneur I am today.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter. Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter. Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes contributed to this reoport. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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