Zappos ex-CEO Tony Hsieh built his company's culture around customer service and made sure it survived Amazon's takeover. Here are the 6 best quotes from his memo announcing the deal
- Early Zappos investor and former CEO Tony Hsieh died on Friday.
- Hsieh raised the bar for customer service while running the online shoe seller, empowering his employees to send flowers and cards to customers, speak with them for hours, help them to order pizzas, and even hand-deliver especially valuable packages.
- The Zappos chief sold the company to Amazon for $1.2 billion in stock in 2009, after ensuring the transaction would prize the company's culture and protect its relationships with customers.
- Scroll down for six of the best quotes from Hsieh's memo to Zappos staff announcing the deal.
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Tony Hsieh, an early Zappos investor and the online shoe seller's former CEO, died on Friday. He set a new standard for customer service, and his memo to staff announcing the $1.2 billion all-stock sale of Zappos to Amazon in 2009 is a reminder of the extraordinary company culture he nurtured.
Hsieh famously pushed his employees to go above and beyond in making customers happy. Zappos employees sent flowers and handwritten cards, spent up to 10 hours chatting to a single caller, researched nearby pizza joints for hungry customers, and even boarded flights to personally deliver packages containing misplaced valuables.
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recognized much of Zappos' value lay in its customer relationships and culture, so he agreed to structure its takeover to leave them intact. The transaction echoed Warren Buffett's approach of acquiring quality companies with solid management and trusting them to perform with minimal intervention.
"We tend to let our many subsidiaries operate on their own, without our supervising and monitoring them to any degree," the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO wrote in his 2009 letter to shareholders.
Hsieh and his team insisted on a similar amount of freedom to protect Zappos' "special sauce" and continue building the company.
Here are Hsieh's 6 best quotes from his memo to Zappos staff, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:
1. "I personally would prefer the headline 'Zappos and Amazon sitting in a tree…' — framing the transaction as closer to a romantic partnership than a sale. Hsieh compared the deal to a marriage, and the exchange of stock to a couple opening a joint bank account, in Inc. magazine in 2010.
2. "We learned that they truly wanted us to continue to build the Zappos brand and continue to build the Zappos culture in our own unique way. I think 'unique' was their way of saying 'fun and a little weird.' :)"
3. "Our culture is the platform that enables us to deliver the Zappos experience to our customers."
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4. "Their desire is for us to continue to grow and develop our culture (and perhaps even a little bit of our culture may rub off on them)."
5. "We are both very customer-focused companies — we just focus on different ways of making our customers happy. Amazon focuses on low prices, vast selection, and convenience to make their customers happy, while Zappos does it through developing relationships, creating personal emotional connections, and delivering high touch ('WOW') customer service."
6. "We're not going to be giving the Zappos discount to Amazon employees, unless they bake us cookies and deliver them in person."
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