Event Innovators 2014: Tony Hsieh

The C.E.O. of Zappos is banking the future of Downtown Las Vegas on live events.

By Alesandra Dubin June 17, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

Tony Hsieh, C.E.O., Zappos

Photo: Matthew Wong

Zappos C.E.O. Tony Hsieh, 40, moved the online giant’s headquarters to downtown Las Vegas from Henderson, Nevada, in September 2013. But that gesture was only a tiny piece of his commitment to reinvigorating downtown: he’s also heading up the Downtown Project with the passionate—and lofty—goal of transforming the urban area into a thriving, creative community. The ambitious strategy has many facets—key among them live events.

The signature event component of the $350 million Downtown Project is the Life Is Beautiful Festival, which debuted in October with a two-day lineup of food, music, and art. Led by Aurelian Marketing Group C.E.O. Rehan Choudhry, the festival was widely seen as a roaring success: about 60,000 attendees reveled in a 15-block urban area, exceeding original estimates and drawing major media focus and buzz. Dates have already been confirmed for another run this year—the event returns October 24.

In addition to the festival, a cross-disciplinary speaker series, conferences, family programs, and more intimate events are all part of Hsieh’s master plan to create a sense of community in a part of town that’s often overlooked and attract visitors away from the more touristy Las Vegas Strip.

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