More Than 200 Zappos Employees Take a Buyout Offer

Last month, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh dangled a carrot for employees who were unhappy with the company’s move to Holacracy, an alternative structure of corporate governance that eschews traditional manager-on-top roles in favor of self-governing “circles” of employees. If any Zappos employees didn’t want to work under Holacracy, Hsieh said in an April 8 memo, he would be willing to buy their way out:

…Self-management and self-organization is not for everyone, and not everyone will necessarily want to move forward in the direction of the Best Customers Strategy and the strategy statements that were recently rolled out. Therefore, there will be a special version of “the offer” on a company-wide scale, in which each employee will be offered at least 3 months severance (and up to 3 months of COBRA reimbursement for benefits) if he/she feels that self-management, self-organization, and our Best Customers Strategy and strategy statements … are not the right fit.

Hsieh even sweetened the deal for those Zappos employees who had been with the company longer than four years: A month of pay for every year worked, plus up to three months of COBRA.

The offer was nothing if not generous … and late last week, a number of employees took it. According to a company email, a total of 210 people decided to leave Zappos—nearly 14 percent of Zappos’ 1,503-person workforce. Sources say that the Outlets, Tech and Downtown teams saw significant reductions, though a Zappos representative was unable to provide exact buyout numbers for individual departments.

Since these employee exits were wholly voluntary and not the result of layoffs, it follows that a number of jobs will soon be posted at Zappos. “Any positions left open from employees taking the offer will be evaluated internally, as usual with public job postings available on,” says Zappos press representative Joanna Hass.

In other words, the opportunity is there, if you’re willing to square yourself with Holacracy’s “circles.”

EDIT, MAY 7, 10:31 A.M.: Anyone interested in applying for a position at Zappos is advised to join the Zappos Insider program, says Hass, “since that network is included in the internal vetting process.” More information here.

Vegas Seven