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A conversation with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh

June 29, 2010 |  4:20 pm

It’s been nearly a year since Zappos.com announced it was being bought by retail giant Amazon.com Inc., but not much has changed for the quirky online shoe seller.Zappos

Impromptu parades and head-shaving parties still take place at the company’s Henderson, Nev., headquarters. Call center reps still do surprise overnight shipping upgrades and send handwritten thank you notes to customers. And the Zappos brand and culture continue to operate separately from its corporate parent.

In an interview from his office -- actually a cramped cubicle strewn with papers, candy and an inflatable monkey -- Chief Executive Tony Hsieh says the company’s independence was a “precondition” to selling itself to Amazon. 

“They’ve stayed true to their word and it’s been just as if we swapped out our board of directors with a new one,” Hsieh said. “We’ve stayed independent and are pretty happy about that.”

Zappos is currently focused on expanding its selection to include more apparel, accessories and housewares (it added those categories a few years ago, though shoes remain its No. 1 product), though Hsieh jokes that one day there could be a Zappos airline. Zappos2

As traditional brick-and-mortar stores expand their online presence, Hsieh says he’s not worried about the potential repercussions for Zappos, which at 11 years old is still a relatively young company.

“We’ve never really paid any attention to what competitors are doing. This isn’t a reason for us to really start now,” he said. “We take a much more tortoise strategy of keeping doing what we’re doing.”

-- Andrea Chang

Photo (top): Zappos headquarters in Henderson, Nev. Photo (bottom): CEO Hsieh says Zappos has maintained its independence from new corporate parent Amazon. Credit: Isaac Brekken / For The Times

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