Zappos Founder and Industry Force Tony Hsieh Died of Smoke Inhalation Complications After Connecticut House Fire

Medical examiners said Monday that Zappos founder and tech visionary Tony Hsieh died of complications from smoke inhalation, according to local reports in Connecticut.

Hsieh’s death, which was confirmed by his family in a text message on Friday night, was ruled an accident by the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Hsieh sustained the injuries during a house fire in New London, Conn. on Nov. 18.

New London Fire Chief Thomas Curcio told local Connecticut newspaper The Courant that there was only one fire with injuries in New London on Nov. 18, at a home at 500 Pequot Ave. although he declined to release the identity of the person injured and said the fire remains “an active investigation.”

FN reached out to officials for more information.

Following the news of Hsieh’s passing over the weekend, tributes from influential fashion and tech-industry leaders as well as other prominent figures flooded social media demonstrating the indelible mark the innovative and generous Zappos.com luminary left on many as he redefined company culture and revolutionized e-commerce and footwear.

“The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being,” said Zappos CEO Kedar Deshpande in a note to employees on Friday. “We recognize that not only have we lost our inspiring former leader, but many of you have also lost a mentor and a friend. Tony played such an integral part in helping create the thriving Zappos business we have today, along with his passion for helping to support and drive our company culture.”

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos took to his personal Instagram account to share similar sentiments about Hsieh. In 2009, Zappos was acquired by the online behemoth Inc. for 10 million shares of Amazon stock, which, at the time of the deal, Hsieh said was valued at about $1.2 billion.

“The world lost you way too soon, @downtowntony. Your curiosity, vision and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark. You will be missed by so many,” Bezos wrote.


Designer Kenneth Cole eulogized Hsieh on social media writing: “I was always inspired by my friend Tony Hsieh. He had a unique ability to reimagine how business could be done, how to connect people in the process — and on how to make a meaningful and sustainable difference. He is leaving his footprints on the shoe industry he transformed, on Las Vegas … and on countless people he touched along the way.”

Tributes also poured in from Ivanka Trump, Wolverine World Wide Inc. CEO Blake Krueger and Deckers CEO Dave Powers.

Hsieh retired and stepped down from the Zappos, which he founded in 1999, this summer. The leader, who had become a Las Vegas legend thanks to his tireless efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown area, was also honored with a five-minute tribute displayed on the canopy of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Saturday night. It featured pictures of the serial entrepreneur set to Eric Clapton’s song “Tears in Heaven.”

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