I have to admit that I was a little turned off initially by this book. As a reader, you are already aware of the glorious final outcome of the story and the rivers of money that Tony must be swimming in. With this in mind, the first part of the book is little hard to swallow. He basically tells a story of growing up fairly privileged (a majority of public high schools don’t demand community service requirements, offer fencing as a PE alternative and feed Harvard and Brown), graduating from Harvard, walking out on a good paying job only to make millions of dollars on a start up, so that he can open a rave loft and throw parties. And now that he’s rich he starts having problems.
But while the first part may sound like gloating, the second part takes a little bit of a turn as we watch Tony dealing with his particular set of problems. I found myself slightly fascinated by the magnitude of the situation that Tony was facing and the level of ingenuity and insight that he and his colleagues employed to save themselves. Still, I can imagine that Tony’s idea of broke was nowhere near as low as what I can fathom.
It was enriching, though to basically tag along as Tony and his colleagues basically shaped their company from a multipurpose loft space to Zappos 2011. I was impressed by that whole loft selling, logistics ordeal. There must have been such a desperation, and comradery among the hand full of workers at such a low point. And its interesting to watch the comradery sort of blossom into a strange corporate family sort of unit as they experience things like the move to Vegas or the financial crisis. You begin to understand the beginning of the book a little more as you become aware of the company that Tony is trying to build once the revenue is coming in. He seems to be aspiring to a level of unity and frequently mentions his appreciation for experiences rather than things. This sort of tribal pihlia sounds a little hoaky as a reader but when you thinka bout it as a customer or a potential worker it is a little refreshing. At Zappos there is a level of transparency and honesty that you don’t typically hear about in other companies, say a financial institution. I appreciate Tony’s focus on customer service its interesting to basically watch that become the company’s saving grace. This sort of invisible byproduct, the experience, that keeps the customer coming back. That letter to the company about the 2008 crisis was really interesting. It’s a little hard to believe that you could be that open with even the lowest employees. But I’m not a CEO yet so I wouldn’t really know.
I really love how the ability to continue to cross brand basically becomes never ending once you have the customer base and their money. I love that there are inspirational blogs and that Tony is invited to speak and so are his employees. Zappos is clearly providing its own brand of experience. Is a sublime user experience (and a heck of a lot of technological savvy and problem solving skills) the key to longevity and revenue online?