Blog # 230 I talked about 2005 comes to an end and another China trip. In this blog I want to talk about Our founder Nick leaves Zappos.
February 2006, we start a Zappos shuttle service for our vendors to pick them up from the airport. It was a way to wow our vendors and let them know how much we appreciate all the hard work they do for us. We had a Merch rule that we would also meet them in the lobby and carry their bags for them. After the appointment we would arrange for their shoe cases to be sent back as well.
Later that month in the middle of the afternoon we get this email from Nick our founder:
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 3:28 PM
Subject: Zeven Years
Last week was the seven year anniversary of the first WSA show I attended. I walked into that show with a stack of papers showing a mockup of a web site to sell shoes. I left that show without any brands having signed on, but convinced that there was a huge opportunity to build an online shoe store. I could have been disappointed at the brands’ reaction, instead I was excited about the opportunity they couldn’t see. I thought of that trip last week in our new office, as I walked through a lobby full of reps from the biggest brands in the footwear industry. What a difference seven years makes 🙂 Seven years later there are over 600 of us at Zappos, over 500 brands have signed on to work with us, and millions of WOW’d customers across the country have helped spread the word that we are much more than an online shoe store. The launch of Zappos was listed by Footwear News as one of the most significant things to have happened in the footwear industry. Who would have thought that at the time?
When I started Zappos I was given two pieces of advice. One, always keep moving forward. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing, just do whatever it takes to keep making progress. Second, hire people smarter than you and let them do their jobs.
Zappos wouldn’t exist today if Tony and Alfred hadn’t seen an opportunity to invest where everyone else saw nothing. Tony singlehandedly kept the company afloat by continuing to invest in the first few years while everyone outside of Zappos thought he was crazy for it. He did what he had to do to keep things moving forward, despite what others thought.
The difference between Zappos in 1999 and 2006 is the people. People wrote the code, signed on brands, placed the ads, shipped the shoes, answered the calls.
Every week new people are joining the company, and every day the company is getting stronger. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been here seven years or seven days, the company has grown stronger each day for the past 2,555 days, and each employee has played a role in that. There has never been a day when we all woke up and the company was weaker than it was the day before. If we woke up tomorrow and had a technical, vendor or shipping problem, the people would fix it. If everyone woke up tomorrow and decided not to come to work, there would be no Zappos. Before the people, Zappos was an idea, today it’s a WOWing machine.
It’s easy at times to get caught up in the stress of the details and lose sight of the big picture. I would urge each of you, when you find yourself in a situation that has you annoyed or frazzled at the office, to take a moment and just sit back and think about what you are a part of, how you are helping to create something that is so much more than just the idea it was seven years ago. It really is pretty amazing, and only the beginning, we will look back in another seven years and think the same.
To fully reach our potential it’s important to do as much as we can today, rather than wait until tomorrow. My biggest regret with Zappos has been the fact that I wasn’t proactive enough in keeping up with each one of you as we grew so quickly. There was a time when I knew not only everyone’s name, but also knew each employee as a person. It disappoints me that today that’s not true. While some might say that’s understandable as we have over 600 employees now, I disagree. We’ve never added more than 20 employees in a week, that’s only four new people per day to introduce myself to and get to know, but I kept putting off those introductions until another day. If I had taken the initiative to make those daily introductions I would be a lot better off today because of it. I apologize to those of you that I have not taken the time to get to know better. Things will only speed up, so please take the time today to get to know as many of your coworkers as possible before it’s overwhelming.
I have had the best seven years of my life at Zappos, I have made great friends and learned more about business and life in general than I ever anticipated when starting this journey. I was even lucky enough to meet my wife at Zappos, the best thing that has happened to me, but please don’t tell her that I said we only hire people smarter than me 🙂
Everyday at Zappos I am inspired watching people create or implement things that didn’t exist the day before. That has reminded me that I am at heart an idea person, and that my strength and passion lies in creating new things from scratch. I’ve decided that it’s time for me to leave Zappos, take what I’ve learned from each of you and begin a new journey. Zappos has set the bar incredibly high as far as what is possible, I had an idea seven years ago, and you guys took it from there. It’s time for me to come up with another idea, and hope that it will lead to something even close to as amazing as this experience has been.
While I’ll no longer be an employee, I’ll still be in touch with the company and visiting the office as often as possible and look forward to continuing the great friendships I’ve made here over the years. Of course I’ll also be at all the great parties 🙂
Whenever I need inspiration in the future I will always know where to look.
Zadios, Peaz out, Zayonara, Hasta la Zista.
I was shocked, but not surprised. Nick is the true definition of being an entrepreneur. He always looks for opportunities to create something amazing. I really liked him. He was funny and smart. Very rarely did you see a bad side of Nick, more often my experiences were always positive and full of wit. Every time I talked to him you could sense the wheels in motion in his mind. It was amazing to experience someone like him.
We keep in touch on occasion even to this day. He hasn’t changed a bit…It was weird thinking about Zappos without Nick but he had an idea that came to life. His work was done. Zappos is an amazing company. It takes great people to make it happen. It takes an extraordinary person to have an idea like this and also the drive to make it happen. Nick is an extrodinary person. I feel fortunate to have spent the time I did with him, it was alot of fun. I think fondly of those early years, it was quite the experience.
The next month we launched New Balance apparel basically opening the floodgates for clothing. It took a while to get the apparel thing going but for this time in Zappos history it was exciting to add other types of items to the site. Speaking of which Oakley goes live the next month launching eyewear to the site.
With all the adds of different categories and our growth, we needed to expand the warehouse once again. We added 625,000 sq. feet to bring the total to 905,000 sq feet. Zappos also hit another millstone reaching 656 employees
SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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