About 12 years ago, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh created a set of principles for the multibillion-dollar online shoe and apparel retailer that included “Create fun and a little weirdness.”
He’s truly led by example, and that’s one of the reasons why he lives in a 240-square-foot trailer with a couple of alpacas despite having a net worth of “at least $780 million,” according to Wealth-X.
When Amazon bought Zappos for $1.2 billion in 2009, Hsieh made Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explicitly agree to let him continue his management and cultural experiments, as long as he continued to deliver financially.
Both parties have held up their side of the bargain, and one of Hsieh’s unusual pursuits has been rebuilding Zappos’ Las Vegas neighbourhood through the independent entity the Downtown Project (DTP), which he started with $350 million of his own money in 2010.
And while it’s separate from Zappos, his two businesses are unavoidably related, since Zappos employees work, live, and play downtown. In fall 2014, Hsieh decided to move out of his luxury condo and into a DTP-owned trailer park a short walk from Zappos HQ.
We recently interviewed Hsieh in Vegas, and he explained why his minimalist lifestyle has enhanced his creativity.
A Downtown Project representative told us that Airstream Village monthly rent is $1,200, including utilities and WiFi. None of the 24 residents are part of the DTP management team, several work in DTP-funded businesses in the neighbourhood.
The alpacas have a pen, but Hsieh often lets them roam around the park due to their generally calm nature.
Hsieh said that his favourite aspect of living in the park is the way that all of its residents are comfortable interacting with each other and often have interesting guests.
“For example, two nights ago we had a bunch of musicians stop by, and Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, starts a rap battle with another performer,” Hsieh said, smiling.
“That’s the type of situation you can’t plan for, but it happens all the time at the Airstream Park and generally happens a lot more in downtown Vegas than any other city I’ve been in.”