Tony Hsieh spending $350-million of his own to redevelop downtown Las Vegas
Las Vegas certainly hosts its fair share of gamblers. And now, Tony Hsieh, the chief executive officer of online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos.com, is betting $350-million of his own money to turn Sin City's depressed downtown area into a startup city -- a thriving neighbourhood "teeming with artists, entrepreneurs and Internet workers," reports Bloomberg Business Week.
The story calls it "one of the most unconventional redevelopment efforts" in any U.S. city ever. Mr. Hsieh is using his own dough, it reports, to "buy empty lots, seed new businesses and subsidize schools"; next year, he plans to move his company's 1,400 local employees from the suburbs into a refurbished city hall -- interestingly, with second-floor jail cells that may be turned into meeting rooms, the story reports.
As the story relates, it all started with Mr. Hsieh's thoughts about moving his company's quarters, thinking first he might build an enclosed kind of campus akin to Apple's quarters in California. Then he began to spend time downtown, and it set his mind to thinking differently. Mr. Hsieh, who sold Zappos to Amazon for $850-million in 2009, left his Vegas mansion and moved into a downtown building, which, the story says, has become a "command centre for his revitalization efforts."
Mr. Hsieh, who plans to move his company into a renovated city hall next year, is personally spending $100-million on land purchases, $100-million on apartment developments, and $50-million on backing tech startups that open in the area, the story reports. And over the next few years, another $100-million will go toward schools and small businesses that come into the area. (The story notes that Mr. Hsieh did not seek any government funding to avoid dealing with bureaucracy.)
The story also notes that it isn't a totally "selfless" project: He has a company called The Downtown Project that will take chunks of equity in businesses it funds.
Will he succeed? "Nevada is stil a place where individual audaicty can be really successful," the story quotes one academic.
Big-screen viewing for wanna-be entrepreneurs
Looking for a movie recommendation? There's plenty out in theatres, but if you want some suggestions targeted to entrepreneurs, this posting offers 10 iconic film recommendations from 10 entrepreneurs that they believe fellow entrepreneurs should see.
EVENTS AND KEY DATES
Calgary Small Business Show
The Calgary Small Business Show takes place on Feb. 10. The show includes exhibitors, keynote speakers and networking opportunities, all targeted to small business. For more information, click here .
The Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre is sponsoring a two-part seminar on tactics for search-engine optimization to help businesses learn how to better their websites for search engines. Both sessions take place Feb. 25, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, in Winnipeg. For more information, click here.
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Common myths about entrepreneurship
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