Tech elites are making moves out of San Francisco as they rethink the area’s costs, political climate, and safety

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Hello!

Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of shoes and clothes retailer Zappos, has died at age 46 following injuries sustained in a fire

Hsieh (pronounced shay) retired from Zappos in August after 20 years with the company, staying on long after he sold the company to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009. He was widely known for his efforts to regenerate the downtown Las Vegas area, and for his commitment to holacracy, a manager-free operating structure. 

Zappos’ current CEO, Kedar Deshpande, called Hsieh a “tremendous visionary and an incredible human being,” while colleagues and acquaintances remembered him as a “gentle soul.”

Sequoia partner Alfred Lin, who once served as COO, CFO, and chairman of Zappos, said on Twitter:

“Today is a sad day! The world lost a pioneer of a company culture, the shoe industry, Downtown LV, web advertising, and also a gentle soul who gave a part of himself to countless people.”


Is Silicon Valley over?

From Meghan Morris and Berber Jin:

Some tech elites are making moves out of San Francisco, as they rethink the area’s costs, political climate, safety, and more. Keith Rabois, for example, is heading to Miami, while Ben Ling tells Business Insider he’s weighing Austin or Miami. 

Silicon Valley, and San Francisco, have long been the capital of America’s tech economy thanks to a variety of important factors. But the pandemic, and the rise of remote work via Zoom, has changed things.

More departures could threaten Silicon Valley’s tech dominance, but they could also herald in cheaper rents, making the area more attractive to newcomers and residents alike — and maintain the region’s longer-term viability as a breeding ground for innovation.

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Robert Smith’s Texas connections

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

From Casey Sullivan and Dakin Campbell:

A scandal in Texas spilled onto the national stage this month after reports said Attorney General Ken Paxton was being investigated by the FBI on allegations of bribery and abuse of office in connection with an Austin real-estate developer who was a political donor.

It marked a dramatic, high-profile escalation of the controversy surrounding Paxton and Nate Paul, the real-estate investor whom the FBI raided last year for still undisclosed reasons.

What isn’t as well known is that Paul, who is now 33, counted Vista Equity Partners’ Robert Smith and longtime Vista executive Brian Sheth among his early supporters.

The Vista executives, who are both billionaires, invested with Paul as he was building his real-estate investment firm, World Class Capital Group, dating back to at least the early 2010s, people who have worked with Paul said. Paul founded his firm in 2007.

Business Insider spoke with 15 people to learn more about the relationship between the three men, and the connections between Vista and World Class Capital.

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The rise and fall of the world’s oldest ad agency

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Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Fortune; Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images; Eric Gaillard/Reuters; Craig Barritt/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

From Patrick Coffee:

J. Walter Thompson was the world’s oldest ad agency, but revenue at the largest office in New York is now a fraction of its peak.

The JWT name disappeared in a merger in 2018, marking an end to an agency that produced timeless campaigns for clients like Kraft and Kellogg’s, and is about to move out of its longtime New York headquarters.

JWT suffered from a faltering digital transformation, financial pressure at the holding company level, and a lawsuit accusing its former CEO of sexism and racism that scared potential clients and hires away.

Today, JWT stands as a cautionary tale and reflection of an industry shaken by changes in consumer behavior and the rise of Facebook and Google.

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Invitation: How to get a job in private equity

Join us on Thursday, December 3, at 1 p.m. ET when recruiters from The Carlyle Group, Apollo, and Bain Capital will break down how to get hired in private equity.

Register here.


Invitation: The future of education

Join us on Wednesday, December 9 at 12 p.m. ET to hear from leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators, including Scott Galloway, marketing professor at New York University, and Dr. Laurie Santos, Yale professor of psychology and creator of the popular online course, “The Science of Well-Being.”

Register here.

Here are some headlines from the past week that you might have missed.

— Matt


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After our investigation into accusations of racism, bullying, and sexual harassment at SoulCycle, more on-the-record sources are making new allegations and naming names

An innovation-focused portfolio manager at a $158 billion firm shares 8 disruptive stocks across multiple industries he thinks could grow 30% every year over the next decade

Joe Biden is hiring about 4,000 political staffers to work in the White House and federal agencies. Here’s how you can boost your chances getting a job in the new administration, according to 3 experts.

Meet the top 36 public relations pros in the tech industry

The US passport has dipped in value in 2020. Wealthy Americans are looking to diversify.

Salesforce’s potential acquisition of Slack could pressure Google Cloud to make a big purchase of its own to keep up, an analyst says

10 digital media companies that are hot acquisition targets, including Patch and TheSkimm

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