Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, 46, died of smoke inhalation as a result of a Connecticut house fire last month. He was planning to enter a rehab facility in Hawaii the night before he died
Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was planning to enter a rehab center in Hawaii but died before his plans came to fruition.
The 46-year-old entrepreneur, who had an estimated net worth of $840 million, died from smoke inhalation as a result of a Connecticut house fire last month.
Friends had warned him that he was living dangerously and was known to be constantly abusing drugs and alcohol, friends told the Wall Street Journal.
But Hsieh had finally come to admit that his addictions had gotten out of control and had accepted he needed help.
He is said to have been making plans to enter a rehab clinic the very night before he died.
Friends had warned him in recent months that he was living dangerously close to the edge.
The multimillionaire had been experimenting with psychedelic mushrooms and ecstasy.
The accounts mirror interviews DailyMail.com conducted last week with some of his friends and colleagues.
They said that Hsieh’s drug abuse was growing fast at the time of his death and that it escalated after he quit as CEO of the shoe company.
One colleague said Hsieh surrounded himself with people who ‘enabled’ his addictions.
Hsieh died in hospital nine days after he was pulled unconscious from a burning shed attached to a $1.3 million home in New London, Connecticut, back on November 18
Jewel, a singer and longtime friend of Hsieh, wrote him a letter raising her concerns after visiting him at one of his homes in Park City, Utah, back in August.
The letter, which was obtained by Forbes, warned that Hsieh was at risk of being remembered as drug addict and not the tech visionary he was.
She wrote that his current lifestyle choices were putting him in danger of crossing from ‘eccentric to madness’.
The singer, who posted a song tribute to Hsieh online this week, was meant to spend the week but left abruptly after just one day. She wrote the letter to him soon after.
Hsieh, 46, was pulled unconscious from a burning shed (pictured) attached to a waterfront home in New London, Connecticut, shortly after 3.30am on November 18. He died in hospital nine days later
‘In recent months the nitrous oxide had become as important to Tony as his alcohol,’ one close colleague said. He would take it in the form of whippets – straight from the cartridge
‘I am going to be blunt,’ she wrote. ‘I need to tell you that I don’t think you are well and in your right mind. I think you are taking too many drugs that cause you to disassociate.
‘The people you are surrounding yourself with are either ignorant or willing to be complicit in you killing yourself.
‘When you look around and realize that every single person around you is on your payroll, then you are in trouble. You are in trouble, Tony.
‘If the world could see how you are living, they would not see you as a tech visionary, they would see you as a drug addicted man who is a cliche. And that’s not how you should go down or be known.
Hsieh received a letter from his friend Jewel three months before he died in which she told him he was in trouble and that he was taking too many drugs. She is pictured above during a tribute song she posted online for him last Wednesday
‘Your body cannot take not sleeping. And the amount of N2O you are doing is not natural. You will not hack sleep and you will not outsmart nature.’
Hsieh died in hospital nine days after he was pulled unconscious from a burning shed attached to a $1.3 million home in New London, Connecticut, back on November 18.
A 911 dispatch tape obtained by DailyMail.com revealed that he was ‘barricaded’ inside the shed at the time.
‘The male is barricaded inside and not answering the door,’ the dispatcher says. ‘Everyone else is outside the house. They are trying to get him to open up.’
Firefighters broke their way in shortly after 3.30am and pulled an unresponsive Hsieh from the property.
He was pronounced dead in hospital on November 27.
The fire broke out around 3:30 am on November 18 at a $1.3 million waterfront home in New London, Connecticut, where Hsieh, former CEO of the giant Zappos empire and his brother had been staying
Hsieh, who sold his business to Amazon for $1 billion in 2009, also liked to use a heater in his girlfriend’s shed to decrease his oxygen level
Details of the shed fire that killed him are still unclear however authorities say he died from smoke inhalation and that the blaze was accidental.
Hsieh, who sold his business to Amazon for $1 billion in 2009, also liked to use a heater in his girlfriend’s shed to decrease his oxygen level according the Post.
‘His heavy alcohol and drug use was known by everyone around him,’ a colleague said. ‘Anyone that challenged him about it was cast aside.
‘The talk among his former colleagues at Zappos is that Tony was likely in the shed blacked out drunk and on drugs. He was a major alcoholic and a drug addict. He was hardcore.’
Some friends said they feared that his use of the laughing gas nitrous oxide and his love of candles could have caused the fire that killed him.
Amazon owner Jeff Bezos was among those to pay tribute to him, saying: ‘The world lost you way too soon. Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark. You will be missed by so many, Tony. Rest In Peace’
‘In recent months the nitrous oxide had become as important to Tony as his alcohol,’ one close colleague said. ‘And Grey Goose vodka was his best friend.’
He would take it in the form of whippets – straight from the cartridge of a whipped cream dispenser.
‘He would take dozens of them a day,’ the colleague said.
‘He lived a crazy, eccentric life. The drugs often made him hallucinate, he became paranoid – that could explain why he barricaded himself in,’ he added.
‘Tony was very fond of candles. He liked to set the atmosphere.’
‘The guess is that he managed to ignite one of the nitrous oxide canisters which caused a small explosion that killed him.’
While nitrous oxide isn’t flammable, it does accelerate the burning of combustible material that is already alight.
Playing with his oxygen intake was part of a number of quirky habits Hsieh embarked on.
At one time her went on a 26-day alphabet diet eating only foods that began with a single letter each day starting with ‘a’ and ending almost a month later with ‘z’.
He would see how long he could go without urinating.
Hsieh, the son of Taiwanese immigrants who was raised in California, stepped down as CEO of Zappos in August.
Friends say that he had been in a ‘downward spiral’ for months and had surrounded himself with ‘yes’ men as he slowly increased his drug and alcohol intake.