Wonder Boy

Wonder Boy

Tony Hsieh, Zappos and the Myth of Happiness in Silicon Valley

Summary

Wonder Boy is a riveting investigation into the turbulent life of Zappos visionary Tony Hsieh, whose radical business strategies revolutionized both the tech world and corporate culture, based on rigorous research and reporting by two seasoned journalists.

Tony Hsieh's first successful venture was in middle school, selling personalized buttons. At Harvard, he made a profit compiling and selling study guides. In 1998, Hsieh sold his first company to Microsoft for $265 million. About a decade later, he sold online shoe empire Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion.

The secret to his success? Making his employees happy.

At its peak, Zappos's employee-friendly culture was so famous across the tech industry that it became one of the hardest companies to get hired at, and CEOs from other companies regularly toured the headquarters. But Hsieh's vision for change didn't stop with corporate culture: Hsieh went on to move Zappos headquarters to Las Vegas and personally funded a nine-figure campaign to revitalize the city's historic downtown area. There, he could be found living in an Airstream and chatting up the locals. But Hsieh's forays into community-revival projects spun out of control as his issues with mental health and addiction ramped up, creating the opportunity for more enablers than friends to stand in his mercurial good graces.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews with a wide range of people whose lives Hsieh touched, journalists Angel Au-Yeung and David Jeans craft a rich portrait of a man who was plagued by the pressure to succeed but who never lost his generous spirit.

Reviews

  • A story of the extraordinary business success of Tony Hsieh. In this cautionary tale, reporters Au-Yeung and Jeans unsparingly shed light on what went wrong.
    Financial Times, Best Summer Books of 2023

About the authors

Angel Au-Yeung

Angel Au-Yeung, co-author of Wonder Boy, is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and a former staff writer for Forbes. She was born in Hong Kong and attended UC San Diego for undergrad as a cognitive neuroscience major and Columbia University for her graduate degree in journalism. She currently lives in San Francisco.
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David Jeans

David Jeans, co-author of Wonder Boy, is an investigative reporter for Forbes, where he covers the tech industry. He holds a master's degree from Columbia Journalism School and has reported for the Associated Press, the New York Times, and other publications. He grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and lives in New York City.
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