ZapposTourYou’ve probably heard about the new headquarters Zappos is building in downtown Las Vegas. Well, I recently had an opportunity to tour downtown Las Vegas with Megan Knedler, Traklight Director of Marketing, to learn more about the project. Of course, I knew it would be fun, interesting, weird and cool all at once because that’s what I think about when I think of Zappos.  It didn’t disappoint.  From the tour guide with rainbow-colored hair, Heidy, to the eye-popping $350 million personal investment of Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, the project already encompasses the company culture. 

The new Zappos headquarters will be located in the old City Hall building, in a neighborhood called Fremont East. However, unlike many headquarters, it will extend beyond the building.   The project includes $200 million allotted for the purchase many of the buildings around the old City Hall.  These buildings will be transformed into housing for Zappos employees and local residents.   It also includes:

  1. $50 million in small business development
  2. $50 million in startups
  3. $50 million in education, arts and culture

How does this relate to a company’s headquarters? As Heidy explained, they are focused on what they call the ‘three c’s’ – Connectedness, Co-learning and Collisions (serendipitous interactions with people).  When you provide opportunities for these 3 c’s, you accelerate productivity, innovation, growth and happiness.   You’ll hear lots of references to ‘serendipity’ as well.  In order to create serendipity, they’re creating a goal of 100 residents per acre, lots of street activity and a culture of creativity, collaboration and openness. Cities that double in size see a 15% increase in productivity and innovation per resident.  However, the same does NOT hold true for companies.   That’s where the need for the expanded community comes into play and why business development, investments in startups and partnership with the likes of Teach for America, Burning Man and First Friday are important to the new headquarter site.  Their belief is that the community culture that they’re building will help Zappos continue to be productive and innovate.

Is Zappos crazy?  Is all of that really necessary to build a headquarters and culture? Nobody knows right now.  However, I believe that if you’re investing in the community and human spirit, there can’t be much room for failure.  Congrats to Tony for having the commitment and doing what he feels is right by his community and people!

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