Questions swirl as investigation into the death of Zappos founder Tony Hsieh advances


The death of retired Zappos founder and CEO Tony Hsieh, who succumbed to his injuries nine days after an early morning fire at a Connecticut waterfront home, remains under investigation as questions persist.

Hsieh, 46, died Friday at a local hospital where he was taken within hours of the November 18 fire. On Monday, the state’s chief medical examiner’s office ruled the death accidental and caused by smoke inhalation.

Praise, fond memories and condolences poured in from celebrities, senior executives and government officials.

But questions about his death remain.


In this September 30, 2013 file photo, Tony Hsieh speaks at a luncheon at the Grand Rapids Economic Club in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Cory Morse / The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Hsieh was on the property of a three-story house in New London, Connecticut, at the time of the blaze at approximately 3:30 am While others were able to get out in time, the former technical manager was in inside a “hangar attached to the outside of the house” and could not or could not escape, according to police and fire department records.

Reports have varied as to whether he was “trapped” or rather “barricaded”, two descriptions provided in the tapes of responders at the scene.

“The male is barricaded inside,” one can hear it said in the recording archived by Broadcastify. “He doesn’t answer the door. Everyone’s outside the house, they’re trying to get him to open up.

“The male is barricaded inside”

– Police and firefighter radio recordings of the November 18 fire at 500 Pequot Avenue, New London, Connecticut, via Broadcastify

On Monday, the New London Police Department released details of how Hsieh was found, describing how they initially received a report of a ‘structure fire with a person trapped inside’.

“Upon arrival at the scene, emergency services personnel observed black smoke emanating from the rear of the residential structure,” police said. “Those at the scene informed emergency personnel that a man, later identified as Anthony Hsieh… was locked in a storage area where smoke was coming out of the back of the residence, and they did not couldn’t get him out.

First responders were able to smash the storage room door and pull Hsieh from inside, police said. He was first taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital before being transferred to the Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital, where he ultimately died.

The New London Fire Marshal’s Office and the New London Police Department’s Investigative Services Division are investigating the case and did not release any additional information at 12 noon Eastern Time on Tuesday.


The Wall Street Journal reported that the $ 1.3 million waterfront property on Pequot Avenue was owned by Rachael Brown, who is also the name of a Zappos employee who is “among her closest confidants.” , according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Local affiliate FOX61 cited sources reporting that Hsieh purchased the house for Brown in August. The news channel spoke with one of Hsieh’s assistants, Anthony Hebert, who said his boss was in town with relatives and his “soul mate,” but did not provide further details.

In this May 21, 2008, archive photo, Marie J. Toulantis, CEO of Barnes & amp;; Tony Hsieh, CEO of; Rob Norman, CEO of GroupM Interaction Worldwide; Bill Gates, president of Microsoft Corp .; Matt Ackley, vice president of Internet Marketing and Advertising, eBay Inc .; Patrick Byrne, CEO of; and Jim Barr, president, Online, Sears Holdings, pose for a photo. (AP Photo / Stephen Brashear)

The Daily Mail reported that one of his brothers was staying at home with him at the time, although it was not clear if Brown was with them.

Hsieh retired from Zappos over the summer after 20 years at the helm of the company. The online shoe retailer shared a tribute on social media Friday night.


“The world has lost a great visionary and an incredible human being,” the statement read. “His mind will forever be part of Zappos.”

Hsieh was a Harvard University graduate who joined the company – then called – in 1999. Zappos was sold to Amazon for $ 1.2 billion in 2009, but Hsieh remained in the business. until his retirement.

Louis Casiano of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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