We'll cover the blockbuster Zappos sale and his bestselling book “Delivering Happiness,” but Tony and I will focus the bulk of the conversation on his unconventional plan to invest $350 million of his own money rebuilding downtown Vegas. Not the strip — that dodgy area near Fremont Street. $350 million. Of his own money. And I remind you, he is not a billionaire.
The plan has been called inspiring and insane, and there are few precedents for an entrepreneur turning a major American city into his own personal Sim City. It’ll be a true test of what an entrepreneurial will and a boat-load of capital can pull off.
Warning: He’s going to try his hardest to convince you to move, and surprisingly, it’s working on a lot of people.
Like, say, my best friend and my husband. The ever-cynical Paul Carr finally decided to abandon his hotel living ways and settle down in Vegas. And my husband is spending two years photographing the city's transition and opening a camera club just steps from Fremont Street and Zappos' new downtown headquarters. While we're disclosing things, Hsieh is also an investor in PandoDaily.
But if you think any of that means I'll go easy on Hsieh, think again. I am writing this from the Ogden apartments in Downtown Vegas, about seven floors below the Downtown Project brain trust. And unlike other reporters who fly in, get the pitch and leave awe-struck, I spend one week a month living in the grand experiment...with a baby. I see all the good and the bad. And let me tell you, building a city makes building a company look easy. There are plenty of land mines the well-meaning Downtown Project is having to navigate to make its dream a reality. We'll get into all of it.
This is a PandoMonthly you won't want to miss if you obsess about company culture or if you've ever dreamed of changing the world starting with your own specific corner of it.
[Note: Tickets are $40 this month, with half the proceeds going to Charity:Water's September fundraising drive. We also have a special $100 ticket that gets you a custom pack of all of our PandoMonthly T-shirts, including the rare staff-only T-shirt. For a $500 donation you'll get the T-shirts, plus a large, framed print of Hallie Bateman's illustration of why Silicon Valley's irrationality is also its brilliance. Hell, I'll also throw in a free ticket to the rest of the 2012 PandoMonthlys in either New York or San Francisco if you donate at the $500 level. Everything over $20 per ticket goes to Charity:Water. Go here for more details.
Also, a few ground rules: All ticket sales are final. If you can't make it, feel free to resell your ticket on Twitter. There is always more interest than tickets available. You must arrive before 7:15 to be admitted into the event. Tickets sell out and will not be available at the door or by emailing and begging. If you want one; buy it now!]
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Speaking truth to the new power