You can’t talk startups in Vegas without hearing from the CEO of Zappos!

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Think of Las Vegas and startups at the same time, and one company is 100% sure to pop into your mind. Yup, you guessed it — Zappos.

Thanks to the Tony Hsieh’s $350 million Downtown Project aimed at simultaneously nurturing local startups and revitalizing the once previously-known, recently deserted, downtown Las Vegas, the shoe retailer and its charismatic CEO are just about synonymous with Vegas-based innovation (and a big part of the reason we decided to locate our next conference in the city).

So, of course, we’re beyond excited to announce that Tony Hsieh will be joining Women 2.0 in Vegas!

Hsieh will join us on stage to discuss his latest startup — the city of Las Vegas itself, as well as his 2020 Vision of urban spaces for work, life and play.

After his bestselling book Delivering Happiness and quirky, much discussed management philosophy that equates happiness with productivity (he’s the guy that came up with idea of paying new hires $2,000 to quit), but if you haven’t been following his recent work with the Downtown Project, it’s worth catching up with the latest news on his attempt to turn downtown Las Vegas into “entrepreneur’s Disneyland” or an “adult version of a college campus.” He’s re-imagining how we use urban spaces and support local founders, through the Vegas Tech Fund, including female founders from:

  • LaunchBit,
  • True + Co, Zirtual
  • LUXr
  • TicketCake
  • Hachi
  • Plympton
  • Digital Royalty
  • Ministry of Supply
  • Umba
  • Zirtual
  • Wildfang
  • Moveline
  • True & Company
  • TheShelf
  • littleBits

Here’s a summary of what Tony will be talking about at our conference:

Culture is to a company as community is to a city: it’s about values, innovation, serendipity, participation, upward mobility, and attraction of smart startups and the creative class. Tony is applying his very successful Zappos corporate culture model (recognized multiple times by FORTUNE as one of the top 100 best places to work) to help build the most community-focused large city in the world in the place you would least expect it: Downtown Las Vegas. Research has shown that every time the size of a city doubles, productivity and innovation per resident increases by 15%, but when companies get bigger, productivity per employee generally goes down. With his new $350 million Downtown Project, Tony is creating a unique hybrid of corporation, community, and city to drive productivity and innovation both for Zappos as well as the city itself.

What are you hoping Tony will talk about in Vegas?

jessicaJessica Stillman (@entrylevelrebel) is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for, contributes regularly to Forbes and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others.
Photo credit: Silicon Prairie News via Flickr.