In a letter to employees, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh announced today that his board of directors had agreed to sell the online shoe retailer to Amazon.com. Sort of. In his note, Hsieh stressed that Zappos would continue to be run autonomously, and that referring to the transaction as an acquisition would be only "technically correct." If the deal goes through, Zappos shareholders will exchange their equity in the private company for shares of Amazon stock.
"We plan to continue to run Zappos the way we have always run Zappos -- continuing to do what we believe is best for our brand, our culture, and our business," Hsieh writes in his letter. "From a practical point of view, it will be as if we are switching out our current shareholders and board of directors for a new one, even though the technical legal structure may be different."
This is the second high-profile sale for the founder. In 1998, Hsieh sold his first business, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million. At the time, he was just 24 years old.
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman