Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Delivering Happiness

Tony Hsieh has been the CEO of Zappos for almost 20 years now. In Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, he tells his story.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book. Hsieh goes into detail about the various businesses he started, including a couple of successful ones he ran from quite a young age. Hsieh was always trying to make money, and eventually he stumbled on a huge success with a company he started called Link Exchange. The company allowed small sites to advertise on other sites without requiring any cash. The small sites just needed to provide some of their own ad inventory to Link Exchange, which could then sell the space to advertisers. Microsoft bought the company for $265 million!

This gave Hsieh the money to do whatever he wanted, and what he decided to do was invest in other startups. One of these startups was Zappos, where Hsieh quickly installed himself as CEO while funding the company. Zappos almost failed numerous times, which surprised me but probably shouldn't, as that seems to be a common theme among fledglings that eventually make it big (e.g. Nike comes to mind).

The second half of the book was a disappointment, however. It read like an advertisement for Zappos. Hsieh spends a lot of time on the company's amazing culture and all the great things Zappos has done to keep its culture great even as it has expanded. Finally Hsieh goes into a bit of detail on the company's sale to Amazon, but even that reads like public relations.

I would pay double for the first half of the book, but I wouldn't pay a dime for the second. So I guess I came out even.

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