Mr. Hsieh, who died at 46, tried to revitalize a corner of the city by attracting other entrepreneurs.
It was his own personal sandbox, a real-life Sim City that he spent $350 million to build in a neglected corner of Las Vegas, just north of the flash and crowds of the Strip.
Tony Hsieh, who died at 46 on Friday from injuries suffered in a house fire earlier this month, was known for running Zappos, a giant online company that sold shoes. But the biggest imprint that Mr. Hsieh left behind is perhaps in downtown Las Vegas, which he transformed with the money he made selling Zappos to Amazon in 2009.
“How many opportunities in a lifetime do you have to help shape the future of a major city?” Mr. Hsieh asked in a 2013 speech, in which he vowed to turn downtown Las Vegas into “the most community-focused large city in the world.”
That year he moved Zappos’s headquarters into the old City Hall building. He tried to increase the number of what he called “collisions” between interesting people in streets and cafes by adding public art and making downtown more walkable. He pitched his friends on moving their start-up ideas to his sandbox, luring hundreds of entrepreneurs.
He called his effort the Downtown Project, and it attracted glowing — if sometimes wary — reviews. As Mr. Hsieh’s transformation moved forward, though, more people began to question the tech executive’s charge into the city.
2. Some restaurants hate delivery apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats. So they’re seeking out alternatives | CNN Business
New York (CNN Business)If you visit Motorino Pizza’s website, you’ll be greeted with a plea: Don’t order through Seamless.
“The worst thing that has ever happened to us is them,” said Mathieu Palombino, owner of the small New York City-based pizza chain.
Palombino used to do just fine with his own delivery fleet, he said. But now, he feels that opting out of Seamless is not an option. If you’re not on Seamless, “you no longer exist online. You’re not there.” Because so many people order through the app, turning it off would mean losing about 80% of his business overnight, he said.
Restaurant operators complain that third-party delivery providers like Seamless, DoorDash and Uber Eats are prohibitively expensive. These platforms offer a way for customers to order from local restaurants, process restaurant payments and provide contract drivers to pick meals up from restaurants and deliver them to customers. For these services, they often charge restaurants around 30% per order. But profit margins in the restaurant industry are often razor-thin, so these fees can wipe out the restaurant’s profits or put them in the red. And if they choose to outsource delivery to these platforms, restaurants also hand off valuable customer data and control over how delivery orders show up at their customers doors.
When Chirag Bhakta saw a headline recently that said tech workers were fleeing San Francisco, he had a quick reaction: “Good riddance.”
Bhakta, a San Francisco native and tenant organizer for affordable housing nonprofit Mission Housing, is well-versed in the seismic impact that the growth of the tech industry has had on the city. As software companies expanded over the past decade, they drew thousands of well-off newcomers who bid up rents and remade the city’s economy and culture.
He said the sudden departure of many tech workers and executives — often to less expensive, rural areas where they can telecommute during the coronavirus pandemic — reveals that their relationship with San Francisco was “transactional” all along.
4. Firstminute Capital launches second $111M fund, featuring a who’s-who of founders as LPs | TechCrunch
London HQ’d Firstminute Capital has announced its second early-stage venture fund of $111m (£87m). Founded and cornerstoned in 2016 by Brent Hoberman CBE (best known as co-founder of lastminute.com and MADE.com), together with Spencer Crawley (formerly of Goldman Sachs), this new fund comes after the first fund of $100M, giving Firstminute $211M assets under management, investing across Europe and the US at the seed stage.
Firstminute’s team of 18 is based in London, Stockholm and Berlin and now has plans to open an office in LA next year.
Of note is the fact that its LPs now number 70 founders of billion-dollar businesses as investors, and that Firstminute is being so open. VCs typically do not reveal much information about LPs. Hoberman has clearly also leveraged his position as founder of the Founders Forum group which runs events and activities for European tech founders.
5. Solar power nonprofit goes digital to bring installation instruction to underserved communities | GeekWire
When COVID-19 grounded travelers in early 2020, Chris Brooks and his team had to cancel more than a dozen teaching contracts in Africa, Central America, a Native American reservation and other locations around the U.S.
Their nonprofit, Tacoma, Wash.-based Remote Energy, had planned to travel to the largely lower-income communities to train teachers in how to instruct students in solar panel installation. Since 2017, the group of five solar industry experts had visited 25 countries to share their clean-energy skills with teachers. Due to the global pandemic, the organization had to quickly regroup and move their lessons online. It wasn’t easy.
“I love to do stuff with my hands and teach with my hands, and most of the students like to learn that way,” Brooks said. “We’ve really had to relearn everything to be able to do this.”
Most Manhattan offices remain sparsely populated, but developers and landlords are confident the work-from-home phenomenon is temporary. Which is why they believe that office towers have a bright future — and their success will spill over into the residential neighborhoods around them.
The folks at Related Cos. shared with us some recent cheery data from Corcoran on sales at major apartment projects at Hudson Yards or in the West Chelsea area just south of it. People continue to buy expensive homes there, despite all of today’s fear and uncertainty.
Among them: Lantern House at 515 W. 18th St., next to the High Line, has averaged three unit sales each month for the past six months.
Seven condo sales have closed since May at the Zaha Hadid-designed 520 W. 28th St. One was the penthouse, one of only two apartment sales over $20 million signed in the city in this year’s third quarter.
Restaurants are enclosing outdoor spaces with tents and domes ahead of the winter months. At what point does eating outside become no different from eating inside?
It started with the outdoor heaters. As temperatures slipped in northern U.S. cities, the mushroom heat lamps were the first to materialize as a ubiquitous outdoor feature at restaurants. Then came the pop-up tents. Simple in structure at first, vinyl screens protecting diners from piercing winds arrived as a second wintertime hospitality must. The most sophisticated of these structures have taken on a decidedly permanent look.
Fashioned out of plywood or plastic, or specially commissioned from high-end outdoor event suppliers, the architecture of the outdoor dining age has advanced to a point where diners might never notice that they’re sitting outside. With coronavirus counts rising, the case for outdoor dining has never been stronger. Some restaurants have invested in robust outdoor additions, including winter yurts, bubble tents and geodesic domes.
8. Coronavirus changes Black Friday shopping as shoppers went online instead crowding into stores | Fox Business Network
Roughly half as many people visited stores as last year, research firm finds
U.S. shoppers went online to purchase holiday gifts and score Black Friday deals they once crowded into malls to grab, as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the yearslong remaking of the U.S. retail landscape.
Roughly half as many people visited stores on Black Friday as they did last year, according to research firms that track foot traffic. Meanwhile, online spending jumped 22% from a year ago, making it the second-best online shopping day ever measured by Adobe Analytics.
It is unclear whether an early start to the holiday shopping season, the online Black Friday surge and an expected record day on Cyber Monday will be enough to offset the money lost from in-person shopping for many chains.
Universal Studios Japan plans to open its $580 million Nintendo attraction on Feb. 4, finally debuting a long-delayed effort to introduce Mario and other beloved characters to real-world theme park visitors.
Super Nintendo World, built on the existing Universal Studios Japan site, is envisioned as a life-sized replica of Nintendo Co.’s most popular games with rides, shops and walk-through activities. One of the first attractions will be a Mario Kart ride inside a recreation of Bowser’s Castle.
Borrowing an idea from the Super Mario franchise, visitors can collect virtual coins by wearing a dedicated wristband as they explore the area and interact with park features via a Switch console.
With the pandemic not slowing down and many workplaces shut down for winter, your long-term health may depend on getting your desk set up well
For the first two weeks, Kathryn Benjamin worked from her sofa. When hunching over her laptop started to hurt, the 34-year-old marketing manager moved to a high-top table wedged in the kitchen of her tiny London flat. She bought a bar stool to sit on.
In theory, that was better. But it turns out not having your feet touch the floor is “actually really uncomfortable,” Ms. Benjamin says. Her neck and back ached. In September, she gave in, finally ordering a proper desk and task chair for almost $400 and moving the bed belonging…