It was never going to be easy to succeed Tony Hsieh, the celebrated chief executive of Zappos, who turned a tiny online shoe seller into a $1 billion behemoth through an obsessive focus on corporate culture and happy employees. But Kedar Deshpande took over at a particularly fraught time.
Zappos, which is owned by Amazon, was already navigating remote work and grappling with pandemic-driven changes in how people shop when Mr. Hsieh abruptly retired in August after two decades, which led Mr. Deshpande to be named C.E.O. Then in November, tragedy struck: Mr. Hsieh, 46, died from injuries suffered in a house fire in New London, Conn., sending shock waves throughout the roughly 1,500-person company, as well as tech and entrepreneurial circles.
Since then, it has been reported that Mr. Hsieh had been behaving erratically for months and that friends had considered staging an intervention last summer. The revelations brought new scrutiny to the circumstances of his exit from Zappos.
Mr. Deshpande, who was previously Zappos’s chief operating officer, said that when Mr. Hsieh told him last summer that he wanted to pursue other projects, he did not push back.
Las Vegas can survive without its chief architect.
has claimed that it is harder to get a job at Zappos than it is to get into Harvard.
Mr. Deshpande said Zappos employees had become closer in some ways in the past year as they brought family or pets into the remote-work fold.