Tony Hsieh Is Building a Startup Paradise in Vegas

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is spending $350 million to build a startup paradise in downtown Las Vegas. It hasn’t been all unicorns and butterflies
Photographer: Michael Friberg for Bloomberg Businessweek

Tony Hsieh spent the last weekend of October celebrating with some 30,000 people at Life is Beautiful, a three-day festival in downtown Las Vegas with one main sponsor: Hsieh. People wrote their biggest dreams and fears on a wall; two actors improvised love stories. A Ferris wheel, solar-cooked tacos, and 53 custom cocktails were available. Kanye West and Lionel Richie performed. So did Hsieh’s favorite band, Rabbit! “They play only happy music,” he says. “They’re our ‘hold’ music.” Hsieh is chief executive officer of Zappos.com, the online shoe retailer known for boasting about the happiness of its employees and customers. He’s also the founder, financier, and impresario of the Downtown Project in Las Vegas, an ambitious social experiment in urban renewal.

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