Is it possible that one proven entrepreneur can turn a city around? Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos plans to do just that by investing $350 million of his on personal cash into the downtown area of Las Vegas. Hsieh will star with moving the company’s headquarters’ to the downtown area of Vegas by refurbishing an old cityhall building costing $40 million according to Business Insider. If he is able to pull off revitalizing downtown Vegas, I’m going to put an want-ad in USA Today seeking a billionaire to come save Detroit and its downtown area.
The 38-year-old wants to revitalize the downtown area dramatically, and make the city a place where his employees would want to live and play and eventually make it one of the coolest, smartest cities in the world.
His $350 million investment all goes back to finding a cool bar downtown. When he first moved Zappos to Henderson in 2004, he spent his weekends on the Strip; but then he discovered the Downtown Cocktail Room. He got to know the bar’s owner, Michael Cornthwaite, who says that over several months and some “magical discussions,” he convinced Hsieh to move his corporate offices downtown and invest in the city.
“It was almost too good to be true that [City Hall] was a few blocks away from Michael’s bar and all of that,” Hsieh tells us. “Originally, we were just saying, any plot of land anywhere. We’ll just build our own campus like Google or Apple or Nike. Michael convinced us not to do that. Apple and Nike have great campuses for their employees, but they’re not integrated [and don't] contribute to the community around them. They’re kind of like these little islands.”
This all came about in 2010, a few months after Amazon bought Zappos for $1.2 billion.
“Amazon knew we were running out of space, and we had to do something,” Hsieh tells us. “What really helped us coincidentally by timing, is that Amazon had just built a new campus and moved in when we started discussions about wanting to move downtown. I think Jeff Bezos thinks this is a really interesting experiment.”