Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Las Vegas Condo

Last night I was invited over to Tony Hsieh’s condo in downtown Las Vegas.  It is right at the downtown end of the strip with amazing views.  It is 2 or 3 three bedroom units turned into one large unit.  There is room for guests to stay, meeting room and huge bean bags in a theater.  It was great to see a birds eye view of what Tony has planned for the downtown project and his condo is right in the center of it all.

The view

Zappos Insights Tour

I flew into Las Vegas for a couple meetings this week.  One was with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.  Tony was gracious to meet up with me for a drink on Wednesday night.  We met at a bar downtown Las Vegas that his “Downtown Project” team works from during the day.  It was great to chat with Tony and learn more about what he was up to with downtown Las Vegas.  He has some huge ideas and I’m confident that he is the right guy to see them through.  While we were chatting, Tony suggested that I take the Zappos tour the next day if I had some time.  I said I did, and within a few minutes of him pulling out his phone, one of his team walked into the bar to arrange everything.

Out at Zappos the tour was amazing.  It was great to see first hand how Tony has grown an amazing culture.  Here are a couple pictures I snapped from my phone.  As you can see their office has “stuff” everywhere.  Employees (or Friends as our guide referred to them) are encouraged to bring in whatever they want that showcases their personality.  Plus, great to see, Tony and the management team are in cubicles right along side everyone else.

Founders Dinner: Vancouver, BC

I have been attending a “Founders Drinks” event every 5 or 6 weeks in San Francisco at co-founder Jonathan Swanson’s condo for the since the start of 2012.  It is a get together of some of San Francisco’s movers and shakers in the technology industry.

I have enjoyed the events so much that I decided to bring the concept to Vancouver as a way to bring together some of Vancouver’s technology leaders.  The other night was our second dinner where we did a catered meal at BuildDirect’s swanky new offices downtown Vancouver.

This months guest list included…

James Mazur co-founder of
Matt Friesen co-founder of
Nick Molnar co-founder of
Olivier Vincent founder of
Andrea Shillington founder of
Christian Cotichini co-founder of Make Technologies
Jeff Booth co-founder of
Tony Wind co-founder of Crystal Reports
Jason Billingsley co-founder of Elastic Path
Chris Breikss co-founder of
John Blown co-founder of
Harry Yeh co-founder of Comet Computing
Basil Peters M&A Advisor
Kris Krug Photographer
Stephen Jagger co-founder of
Rob Banks co-founder of BuildDirect
Michael Stephenson co-founder of


ON3 Pitching Competition: PayrollHero Wins

PayrollHero took part in a pitching competition in Manila, PH a week ago for ON3 Business Plan Competition for the NCR and Southern Luzon Region at the Meridian International (MINT) Business Arts and Technology College.  Two PayrollHero team members Tin Sanchez and Margarita Dumlao presented the business to the judges against a few other Philippine startups and PayrollHero was chosen as the winner! That is the second competition that PayrollHero has won in the Philippines this month.

Poker at Obvious

I caught up with fellow alumni Tony Stubblebine the other day at his offices to catch up and grab a beer.  Tony is the co-founder of, a company funded by the Obvious guys and operates out of their offices.  I dropped into the Obvious offices to meetup with Tony and end up playing poker with him, his co-founder Jon Crosby a few of the Obvious guys late into the evening.  It was a great to chat further with their team and learn more about the ins and outs of poker.

Ghost Employees, A Worldwide Problem

A round up of a few ghost employee related articles from Google news.

Detroit, USA – “Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was among the first in line at 7:30 Friday morning to produce identification to prove he is who he says he is” (Article)

St. Louis, USA – “Former employees told the FBI that St. Louis Treasurer Larry Williams not only knew about ghost, or no-show, employees on the payroll, he looked out for them…” (Article)

Nigeria – “no less than 17,000 ghost workers have been uncovered in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria” (Article)

Zimbabwe – “The government could have been defrauded of about US$50 million” (Article)

Windsor, Canada – “Ontario civil servants earning more than $100,000 didn’t even work at their public sector jobs last year.” (Article)

Echelon 2012 – Philippines Satellite; Payroll Hero Wins!

Payroll Hero was selected to take part in the Philippines Satellite event last night as part of the Echelon 2012 Technology Conference that is coming up in June 2012 in Singapore.

What is Echelon 2012?
Echelon 2012 is a two-day, double-track event on June 11-12 with over 1,100 delegates, a startup marketplace of up to 50 startups and various workshops. Echelon 2012 will be the biggest ever edition of Asia’s best startup event. It will discover Southeast Asia’s best startups on an all new scale.”

Echelon 2012 setup a 6 city tour to “hunt for the most promising startups in Asia” and Payroll Hero was chosen to participate in the Philippines event. The startups chosen to pitch where;

1) – an online guest listing service and nightlife social networking site

2) Collabspot – an online project management tool based on Kanban boards

3) Bolooka – an e-commerce website generator

4) Payroll Hero – payroll generation in the cloud for web and mobile

5) Mobile9 – And open, local and social app store

6) Paybilis – Bill collection and payment service

7) – a central hub for small business owners to manage their web presence

The pitches were judged by Mohan Belani of e27, Jay Fajardo of Roofcamp, Simone Brunozzi from Amazon Web Services, Ben Gillenwater from Research In Motion and Miguel Paraz who is a mobile consultant.

Each startup did a fantastic job pitching their business but in the end, the judges choose Payroll Hero as the winner!