Tony Hsieh’s Bizarre Death Details Emerge: Former Zappos CEO Was ‘Locked’ In Basement

Lingering questions on Hsieh’s connection to the home where he was found, as well as the nature of the fire, remain

Last Updated: December 1, 2020 @ 8:12 PM

The death of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who died last week in a fire at a Connecticut home, continued to raise questions on Tuesday.

Here’s what we know: Early on the morning of November 18, firefighters were called to a home in New London, Conn., and told Hsieh was trapped inside, according to the Hartford Courant. Hsieh was pulled from the home and CPR was administered before he was later taken to a local hospital. He died last Friday, nine days after the fire. Medical examiners on Monday ruled it an accident and said his death was due to injuries caused by smoke inhalation.

Still, the circumstances surrounding Hsieh’s death remain unclear. An emergency dispatcher, in audio obtained by The Daily Mail, said the fire was in a “shed that is attached to the exterior of the house,” and that a “male is barricaded inside” and unresponsive. “Everyone else is outside the house,” the dispatcher said. “They are trying to get him to open up.”

Later, New London Fire Captain Brian Wright, in a statement to The Daily Mail, said that people at the home told firefighters Hsieh was “locked inside” a storage area and that first responders had to bust the door in to get to him.

There are several lingering questions, including: Was Hsieh “barricaded” or “locked” inside? What was his connection to this home? And why was the fire seemingly contained to where Hsieh was found? (A man who later answered the door at the home told The Daily Mail there was “very little damage” to the rest of the house.)

Compounding matters even further, records obtained by the Hartford Courant show the home was purchased recently by Rachael Brown — and a woman with the same name was found to be a longtime Zappos employee who started at the company in 2004. A woman named Rachael Brown was among Hsieh’s “closest confidants,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. On Tuesday, Connecticut’s Fox 61, citing unnamed sources, said Hsieh bought the home for Brown in August. Hsieh and one of his brothers had been staying at the $1.3 million home prior to the fire, according to multiple reports.

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Hsieh graduated from Harvard University before embarking on a successful career as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and civic leader.

Prior to joining Zappos, Hsieh co-founded the online advertising network LinkExchange, which he sold to Microsoft in 1998 for $265 million.

While at Zappos, he also became a leading figure in public and private efforts to redevelop downtown Las Vegas. In 2013, he moved Zappos’ headquarters to the former Las Vegas City Hall building and pledged $350 million to other revitalization efforts.

“Tony Hsieh played a pivotal role in helping transform Downtown Las Vegas,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak tweeted. “Kathy and I send our love and condolences to Tony’s family and friends during this difficult time.”