Zappos is moving to Las Vegas, but its CEO has bigger plans for Sin City. A new project will invest millions of the executive’s own money into building a new downtown to rival Silicon Valley.
Best known for being the go-to online shoe store, Zappos is moving its headquarters from Henderson, NV to Las Vegas. While Vegas does not carry the technology hub status that other major metropolitan areas do, this may change, not only due to the e-commerce company’s move, but thanks to a major monetary investment from its CEO, Tony Hsieh. In a plan to revitalize the Las Vegas downtown area into a “community-focused large city,” Hsieh launched the Downtown Project. With $350 million of his own money, the Project has allocated aid to real estate, residential development, small businesses, education and tech startups.
Creating a tech hub by supporting communities...
The tech startup aid is being implemented through the VegasTechFund, which invests in founders and startups based within the downtown Las Vegas area. The Fund’s vision is to build a creative class locally and further the role of tech in Vegas - building its identity as a new hub for innovation. The VegasTechFund wants to create a tech hub community, which runs parallel to the Downtown Project’s mission - attracting people to the area, encouraging them to move there by developing residences, and cultivating a centralized space where those who are passionate about technology can have an opportunity to succeed. The Downtown Project also is working with other communities to encourage shared interests - fashion, music, or art professionals to collaborate with and get inspiration from.
… and investing in entrepreneurs that will build upon the new infrastructure
The Downtown Project hopes to create this community in less than five years - providing the culture, community and education for all this to happen. By building this type of “dense urban core,” their mission hopes to create the kind of structure that will encourage entrepreneurs and provide a support network for small businesses. They aim to invest in “100-200 entrepreneurs” who are committed to building community and being sustainable, as well as to build programs that will help their startups avoid basic mistakes. But the support is not only for new entrepreneurs - building a robust local economy also calls for matching mature tech with new projects, so a variety of programs will receive support.