In this presentation at the Web 2.0 Conference, Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh talks about his first business selling pizza in college, starting Link Exchange after college, and how he eventually ended up leading Zappos as the CEO. Tony discusses how his experience at Link Exchange influenced him to focus on corporate culture as a top priority, and why he thinks culture is so important to a company’s future growth and success.
Tony talks about the internal vision of Zappos not just to be an Internet footware merchant, but to be a brand that is known for an excellent customer experience. He goes on to list a number of specific techniques that the company uses to enhance customer service, and explains why he thinks that the telephone is still one of the best branding devices available.
How do you define culture? Tony talks about some of the core values of Zappos, and why it’s important to have values that aren’t just a plaque on a wall. These values permeate every aspect of the company, and Tony details some of the hiring and training practices that Zappos uses to ensure that every employee fits into the corporate culture.
Tony Hsieh originally got involved with Zappos as an advisor and investor in 1999, about 2 months after the company was founded. Over time, Tony ended up spending more and more time with the company because it was both the most fun and the most promising out of all the companies that he was involved with. He eventually joined Zappos full time in 2000. Under his leadership, Zappos has grown gross merchandise sales from $1.6M in 2000 to $840M in 2007 by focusing relentlessly on customer service.
Tony focuses on continuing to grow the business at a rapid pace while maintaining the culture and feel of a small company. Prior to joining Zappos, Tony co-founded Venture Frogs with Alfred Lin. Venture Frogs is an incubator and investment firm that invested in Internet startups, including Ask Jeeves, Tellme Networks, and of course, Zappos.com. Prior to Venture Frogs, Tony co-founded LinkExchange, an advertising network that was successfully sold to Microsoft for $265M in 1998.
This free podcast is from our Web 2.0 Conference series.
Photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid