A radical experiment at Zappos to end the office workplace as we know it
TONY HSIEH, the CEO of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing store, lives in a trailer park in downtown Las Vegas. The Airstream Park, as it’s called, occupies about half a city block, surrounded by a tall fence crowned with barbed wire and punctuated with palm trees. When I arrived in April, Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, and a colorful assortment of portable seating encircled a pair of fire pits. On one side of the park was a low stage, directly opposite a large two-story Airstream, known as the Llamamobile, equipped with a roof deck and a third fire pit and decorated with a mural of a lone llama grazing in a limitless lush green field. Next to the Airstream, modified shipping containers painted in primary colors revealed a laundry room, kitchen, and a pantry stocked with cases of Fernet, an Italian digestif. Scratched into a concrete step was the word “Llamalopolis.”
Hsieh sleeps in a 22-foot Airstream, and the park serves as his preferred location for hanging out with friends and colleagues, for entertainment, and for much of his business life. In personal style he is aggressively casual, wearing a daily uniform of blue jeans, black sneakers, and a Zappos T-shirt. Everyone calls him Tony. Although he is reserved and quiet, Hsieh clearly enjoys a good party. In his memoir, Delivering Happiness, he wrote that one of the primary reasons he sold his first company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft in 1998 was that running the business had ceased to be fun. So it comes as no surprise that the atmosphere Hsieh has created around himself in Las Vegas, where he moved the company from San Francisco in 2004, is aggressively festive. “South by Southwest meets TED meets Burning Man,” he told me. “But as a lifestyle, not a festival.”
Although Hsieh did not found Zappos—he was an early investor and joined the company as CEO in 2000—he encountered the same sense of connection and tribal identification in running the online shoe company that he had once felt at raves. His new company became his tribe, and although there were some tough times during the early years—the dot-com crash, layoffs, salary reductions, and extremely long hours—Hsieh’s focus was always about making the company culture as positive and caring and fun as possible.
That “tribal” focus remains strong today, and the company’s culture is decidedly wacky. An unofficial dress-code of T-shirts and sneakers predominates in its expansive open-plan offices; large tattoos, high-fives, and hugs abound; severed neckties, liberated from stuffed-shirt visitors, adorn a wall behind the lobby reception desk. Conventional job titles hardly exist, and top executives are referred to as “monkeys”; assistants, on the other hand, are “ninjas.” Stuffed animals, toys, and murals decorate most surfaces. Upbeat music blares from speakers in the headquarters’ courtyard. Zapponians, as the employees call one another, like to talk about “work-life integration” rather than work-life balance.
In recent years, however, Hsieh’s experiments with corporate culture have become more philosophical. About three years ago, he introduced an arcane management system, called Holacracy, that baffled many longtime Zapponians. Then, in March, he sent out an email to all 1,443 Zappos employees. “This is a long email,” he wrote. “Please take 30 minutes to read through the email in its entirety.” Ominous words to see in a message from one’s CEO. Were layoffs coming? Was Hsieh resigning? Was Amazon, which acquired Zappos for an estimated $800 million in 2009, finally going to impose its famously cutthroat corporate culture? No, it was nothing like that, though the news was certainly dramatic. After four paragraphs salted with esoteric terms such as “Teal organization,” “self-organization,” and “Glass Frog,” Hsieh finally reached the point: “As of 4/30/15, in order to eliminate the legacy management hierarchy, there will be effectively no more people managers.”
Read all of this HERE. Hey, I found this interesting for sure!
The frightening promise of self-tracking pills
A new digital pill system could save billions in health care costs — but will courts take it too far?
Some morning in the future, you take a pill — maybe something for depression or cholesterol. You take it every morning.
Buried inside the pill is a sand-sized grain, one millimeter square and a third of a millimeter thick, made from copper, magnesium, and silicon. When the pill reaches your stomach, your stomach acids form a circuit with the copper and magnesium, powering up a microchip. Soon, the entire contraption will dissolve, but in the five minutes before that happens, the chip taps out a steady rhythm of electrical pulses, barely audible over the body’s background hum.
The signal travels as far as a patch stuck to your skin near the navel, which verifies the signal, then transmits it wirelessly to your smartphone, which passes it along to your doctor. There’s now a verifiable record that the pill reached your stomach.
This is the vision of Proteus, a new drug-device accepted for review by the Food and Drug Administration last month. The company says it’s the first in a new generation of smart drugs, a new source of data for patients and doctors alike. But bioethicists worry that the same data could be used to control patients, infringing on the intensely personal right to refuse medication and giving insurers new power over patients’ lives. As the device moves closer to market, it raises a serious question: Is tracking medicine worth the risk?
Much more to read HERE.
Putin’s Angels: Inside Russia’s Most Infamous Motorcycle Club
The Night Wolves are backed by the Kremlin, fighting in Ukraine and hellbent on restoring the empire
The president of Russia’s most infamous motorcycle club emerges from a purifying swim in the still waters of a former slurry pond. He cuts a striking figure: tall, tattooed, plated with muscle. His hair, a leonine mane, clings to his back in dark ringlets. A silver crucifix dangles from his neck. “He goes to the lake, swimming for an hour, to maintain himself in a moral state,” says one of his lieutenants, a stout, chain-smoking Kazakh named Arman.
The leader’s name is the Surgeon, and he is the president of the Night Wolves, the largest motorcycle club in Russia. He is a busy man. Over the past week, he has been composing the script for the Night Wolves’ signature event: an annual bike show held here in Sevastopol — a city on the coast of Russia’s recently reacquired Crimean Peninsula — combining motorcycle stunts, military maneuvers and strident nationalist pageantry. One evening, I was told, he also met with Argentina’s vice president. Several weeks before that, he challenged a local lawmaker to a duel. The official had objected to a dubious government land deal that would rent a sprawling, defunct gravel factory, where the Night Wolves hold their bike show, at a 99.9 percent discount. (The official declined the challenge.)
After his swim, the Surgeon strides over to a replica World War II fighter plane. A battle tank, imported from a film studio in Kazakhstan, sits parked nearby in the scrub grass. Both would be incorporated into the Night Wolves’ bike show in several weeks — a phantasmagorical spectacle celebrating the Red Army’s victory over Hitler and intended to feed Russia’s growing Soviet nostalgia. “I’m very excited by the topic of war at the moment,” the Surgeon says. “I’m not fucking interested in show just for show. I’m a warrior. I’m fighting for my country, for my history. I’m talking about what Russia is facing now. Especially America, putting the shit on it.”
Much more found HERE.