Zappos.com has become a leader in the online retailing of apparel. The call center, which operates without a manual, is open 24 hours a day and represents a company that will accept product returns up to one year after purchase, part of a radical customer service program.
Zappos also has its unique “10 core values” on which the organization is based. These include: Deliver WOW through service; Embrace and drive change; and Create fun and a little weirdness. The new office, in the heart of the old downtown area of Las Vegas, personifies these core values.
The company had several corporate directions prior to its move from its previous office in the Las Vegas suburbs. One was that it was an office campus, much like the headquarters of Google and Apple. It provided a number of services that it shared with the local community, creating a distinctive district. With fortuitous timing, however, the company learned that the old city hall building was being vacated in the downtown area, so Zappos moved into it in 2013.
The office is the former city hall, with the streets of the downtown area spreading all around. Most employees are themselves Las Vegans.
Sales: Not released
Net income: Not released
Employees: 1,460 (as of 2016)
Street art on an exterior wall. The downtown area is the birthplace of Las Vegas. While much of the good old cityscape remained, up until recently even the back streets had a deserted feeling. One of the company’s goals is to improve the look of the area through the use of art.
The downtown area, which was once full of casinos, has seen a gradual decline, so Zappos saw the possibility to create a new community. “We love the Las Vegas area and felt that we wanted to contribute to the city,” says Loren Becker, Experience & Community Team Manager, also known as Culture Commando. “The old city hall building is located right in the center of the city. We felt this would be the best location for both the development of a new community and the growth of Zappos as well.”
The old city hall was completely empty when the company moved in. The overall design had already been decided through employee interviews, but at the time of the move the walls were plain and drab and there were no decorations in the spaces. “Culture is what is nurtured naturally and organically,” says Sustainability Director Brad Tomm. “The culture employees want is the one they build themselves.” Therefore, the workspace is created by each team and each member, and becomes a forum for them to express their individuality.
The logos of affiliated brand partners are posted along a passageway, giving a sense of the close ties between Zappos and its corporate partners.
The famous Zappos culture book is used as a tool to share the corporate culture both internally and externally.
A music-loving Japanese-American from Hawaii decorated his area using ukuleles, while the HR department looks like a jungle, surrounded by houseplants. Also, based on the wishes of the employees, a supermarket, dog park and school were created along with the community by Tony’s other company Downtown Project.
But, like the core value of, “Create fun and a little weirdness,” many of these are open not only to the office campus, but also to the downtown community as well. Currently, the company is rebuilding the city hall’s legislative assembly building as a concert hall.
“Previously, in the downtown area there was no venue that could hold large conferences or lectures,” says Rob Timoshuk, Operations Director. “We want to hold events like the TED Talks for the local community, as well as doing presentations.”
Zappos has created a vision of the company and the city growing together. And the company has become a part of the local community. There is a real synergy between the company and the city, as Zappos also hires a large number of local people. Since moving to downtown, Zappos has grown to some 1,460 employees. At the same time, the number of restaurants, supermarkets, dry cleaners, bars and other shops has grown in the city.
Zappos’ entry into the area has created a synergistic effect. It is linked in a partnership with Las Vegas, with Zappos attending regular meetings on urban development. “My team is now working on a downtown bicycle sharing program,” Mr. Becker says. “Other companies are participating in the meetings, but we really want Zappos to play a part in the success of the community.”
Naturally, casinos are a major part of Las Vegas business. Many residents of downtown work in the area known as the Las Vegas strip. As a customer service and technology company, Zappos is outside of this. Even so, this is a diverse city, and it welcomes the concept of “Create fun and a little weirdness.”
From WORKSIGHT 10（2016.10）
Plaques honoring long-serving employees, and cloaks presented to outstanding employees.
Left: Rob Timoshuk
Director of Operations
Center: Loren Becker
Zappos Experience &
Community Team Manager,
aka Culture Commando
Right: Brad Tomm
Director of Sustainability