Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has been admired for his commitment to “delivering happiness“ to others, but emerging reports have made it apparent that he may have had difficulty achieving it for himself.
Soon after the beloved entrepreneur’s passing on Nov. 27, business and local communities paid tribute to his legacy. But along with the celebration of his achievements, also came news of his struggles with depression and alleged substance abuse.
The Wall Street Journal reports that during this period, he began experimenting with mushrooms and ecstasy.
Hsieh has also been exhibiting erratic behavior, highlighted by his longstanding fascination with fire which reportedly intensified towards the end.
Cited sources say the entrepreneur tested his body in extremely dangerous ways. He would starve himself, depriving himself of sleep, and even withhold urinating. And when he also deprived himself of oxygen, he turned toward breathing in hypoxia-inducing nitrous oxide.
Close friends and family members reportedly attempted interventions to try to get him to sober up but to no avail.
Research has shown that entrepreneurship can be an isolating journey, and the COVID-19 pandemic only made it worse for Hsieh, who has exhibited a constant need for company.
Hsieh has been surrounding himself with an assortment of former Zappos employees, relatives and acquaintances inside his $16 million in Park City, Utah. He reportedly paid people to move with him in the 17,350-square-foot-mansion.
The last few months saw Hsieh entertaining them with social gatherings and other events. Forbes noted that the people around him at the time were those who encouraged his behavior that can be viewed as self-destructive.
But not all of Hsieh’s friends were complicit with his dangerously out-of-control habits. Singer-songwriter Jewel even wrote him a note warning him of the consequences of his actions.
“When you look around and realize that every single person around you is on your payroll, then you are in trouble,” wrote the singer in August. “You are in trouble, Tony.”
“I need to tell you that I don’t think you are well and in your right mind. I think you are taking too many drugs that cause you to disassociate…The people you are surrounding yourself with are either ignorant or willing to be complicit in you killing yourself.”
Hsieh died at the age of 46 due to complications from smoke inhalation during a November 18 house fire in Connecticut.
As NextShark previously reported, Hsieh was surrounded by his family when he died. He was staying with his brother, Andrew, along with Rachael Brown, a former Zappos colleague who is believed to be his girlfriend.
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Hsieh was already considering checking into a rehabilitation clinic in Hawaii a day before the fire.
The New London Police Department said that Hsieh was trapped inside a storage unit during the fire inside his house in New London, Connecticut. He died a few days later, from what the coroner described as “complications from smoke inhalation.”
An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
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