Tony Hsieh's new $350 million startup - Fortune Tech
Ottway Ducard stashed this in Vision
Indeed, the motivation for Hsieh's big bet comes from his long-held philosophy that serendipitous interactions, or what he likes to call spontaneous "collisions" between people, are what spark ideas and what facilitate relationships that lead to stronger ties -- and stronger ties lead to more ideas. It's why he's poured such effort into building Zappos' into a place where "culture magicians" work their magic and where streamers, balloons and toy figurines seem to spill out of every cubicle.
But for all its zaniness, Zappos is still located in a sprawling suburban office park; the nearest bar where employees can collide after work is almost a half-mile away, next to a big highway. When it came time to think about a new home for the company, Hsieh decided the best way to create those interactions is to drop his employees in the middle of a vibrant downtown and let the surroundings facilitate the interaction. "When you're in a city, the bar or the restaurant becomes an extended conference room," he says. Since downtown Vegas didn't really have that yet, Hsieh says, "The idea went from 'let's build a campus' to 'let's build a city.'"
It's a stark rejection of the prevailing Silicon Valley approach: build a massive, all-encompassing office campus and fill it with perks so your employees won't leave. But Hsieh has never aligned himself much with the prevailing wisdom, and doesn't see himself as a tech CEO ("we don't see ourselves as a tech company; we're a customer service company," he is known to clarify).
But now, he has to build the neighborhood. Much of the plans are already in the works. Plans are being finalized for 21,000 square feet of "co-working" space along the lines of General Assembly in New York. The small business development team is exploring building a back-office technology platform that the mom and pop shops can share to handle accounting, inventory, payroll and the like. Hsieh has made a $1.5 million deal with Teach for America to bring 1,000 core members and alumni to live and teach in the area. He is talking to the creators of the Burning Man festival about supplying art to the neighborhood. Party buses? He and his team are in the process of acquiring and revamping a dozen. Oh, and Hsieh is also part of a group trying to buy the Las Vegas 51s, the farm team; cue the new stadium plans.
sooooo..... he wants his employees to interact with homeless, tweakers, and street hookers?!?
Not quite. They've built a startup community there.
You misspelled "Cult" ;-)