Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was spiraling out of control, abusing drugs and alcohol in the weeks leading up to his death, according to several people who reportedly observed his behavior.
The entrepreneur, with a net worth of about $840 million, was in a fire and died of smoke inhalation in Connecticut last month. His death was ruled accidental.
Hsieh’s lifestyle raised concerns with those close to him, including longtime friend Jewel, who wrote a letter to Hsieh three months ago.
The letter, obtained by Forbes, underscored the trouble she saw.
According to Forbes, the 46-year-old singer wrote the letter after she performed for him in August at a private concert in Park City, Utah.
The letter arrived via FedEx because Hsieh had done a digital purge, Forbes reports.
“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.”
Hsieh’s drug use reportedly escalated after he quit as Zappos CEO in August, and Jewel’s references to drugs are in line with interviews DailyMail.com said it conducted with Hsieh’s colleagues.
One said Hsieh surrounded himself with enablers. “… So it’s sad that he was all alone in a storage area when he was injured.”
Another said, “Anyone that challenged him about it was cast aside.”
Some friends said they feared that his use of the nitrous oxide and his love of candles could have caused the fire that killed him.
“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.”
Hsieh graduated from Harvard University in 1995 and joined Zappos four years later.