Downtown’s Zappos Headquarters Up for Sublease

This news has some layers. Most don’t bode well for Zappos employees or downtown, unfortunately.

The Zappos Campus, headquarters of Amazon-owned online retailer Zappos, is available for sublease. Brokerage CBRE is shopping the Zappos building with a fancy brochure (.pdf) available on its Web site. Today we learned that in the past when we’ve said “.pdf format,” it was redundant like “ATM machine,” because .pdf stands for “portable document format.” We have retroactively annoyed ourself.

What could the sublease of Zappos headquarters mean? We have thoughts. Let’s just say don’t shoot the messenger.

Amazon owns Zappos, DTP Companies owns the real estate. “DTP” stands for Downtown Project, which we’ve never understood, because “downtown” is one word. Let’s not get distracted.

We reached out to CBRE to try and see what’s up, but haven’t heard back.

From what we can tell, the bulk of the office tower at Zappos headquarters will be subleased.

Is Zappos done downtown?

There are multiple suites available and up to 11,324-square-feet of contiguous office space on eight levels.

Basically, Downtown Project is looking to get some money out of the spaces where Zappos employees used to chillax.

When Zappos was Zappos, this campus was a party and a fun hang. We don’t get the feeling Amazon cares all that much about fun or hanging.

The move of Zappos to downtown was a big deal back in 2013. We called it “arguably one of the biggest tectonic shifts in the history of downtown Las Vegas.”

We were there for the ribbon-cutting.

Tony Hsieh
Tony Hsieh was peak Tony Hsieh when he cut the ribbon at Zappos headquarters.

It wasn’t just about somebody moving into downtown’s former City Hall building, it was a symbol of visionary Tony Hsieh’s plans for downtown. Hsieh was investing $350 million to create a business and cultural mecca through his Downtown Project.

Zappos brought not only Hsieh’s deep pockets and inspiration, but also bodies. The company employed about 1,500 people at the time.

At the Zappos ribbon-cutting, everyone got to cut the ribbon. Zappos has always been different.

Zappos became successful because of its unique corporate culture, so The Man had to put a stop to that.

Hsieh’s tragic end has been well-chronicled. It got ugly, with Hsieh surrounded by blood-suckers, many exploiting his drug and mental health problems for their personal gain. He passed away in 2020 at age 46.

With the death of Tony Hsieh, his dream for downtown began to die as well.

His estate has slowly sold off several of his assets and a number of the businesses he backed as a silent partner (basically subsidizing them) went away.

One parcel included the John E. Carson building, now renamed Tony @ Fremont. Another parcel included Fremont East favorites like Inspire Nightclub & Bar, The Griffin, Flippin’ Good Chicken, Downtown Cocktail Room and the shuttered Smashed Pig.

The estate has been trying to sell Gold Spike, but the price is too high according to our sources. Downtown Project killed off the gambling, but the license is still alive, so we’d love to see a buyer bring that back.

Zappos was sort of the de facto engine of Tony Hsieh’s dreams and community, despite the fact Zappos was sold to Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion. Not surprisingly, retail behemoth Amazon started dismantling the Zappos “magic” almost immediately.

It was symbolic of the changes that Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood became the Bakkt Theater in 2023. It’s pronounced “backed.”

You’ll want to read “Happy at Any Cost” if you’re interested in any of this saga. Here’s more.

Long story.

Subleasing the Zappos campus can’t be a morale booster for Zappos employees. If they jump ship (it’s just a matter of time before Amazon assimilates Zappos entirely into its ranks), that’s a lot of folks who live and work downtown and the impact would be significant. They visit all the restaurants and bars and other businesses in the Fremont East neighborhood and beyond.

They don’t tend to make a lot of money at Zappos, but still. We were offered a job by Tony Hsieh at one point and it paid about half the going rate for the position. Honestly, we thought it was a typo.

It was hoped others would line up to carry Tony Hsieh’s torch after his death, but the fact is there are no other Tony Hsiehs.

His family gives lip service to preserving his legacy, but is pretty much just cashing out at this point. Every day, the flame Hsieh lit gets ever-closer to going out. It’s the end of Fernet-Branca in meetings and alpacas and multimillion-dollar business contracts scribbled on Post-it notes. Some dreams end when the dreamer does.

If you or your company end up subleasing the Zappos Campus, please let us know. It always seemed like a cool place to chill.