Alfred Lin To Leave Zappos, Join Sequoia Capital

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Alfred Lin, the COO/CFO of Zappos, has left the company and will join Sequoia Capital. Lin was the no. 2 executive at Zappos at the time of its acquisition by Amazon, and has had a nearly flawless resume as an entrepreneur over the years. Every company he’s worked for has been acquired, and the smallest deal was $265 million. See our post “Alfred Lin Has The Midas Touch: The Man With $2 Billion In Acquisitions Under His Belt.”

Lin isn’t leaving Zappos until the beginning of 2011.

Here’s the email Lin sent to all employees at Zappos earlier today:

Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 15:13:50 -0700
From: Alfred Lin
To: employees@zappos.com
Subject: Life Changing Moments

First, I’m sorry for letting you know all this information in an email. If it was doable, I would have preferred to speak to each of you personally, but that is sadly not really possible. The idea of thinking through whom I should tell first and in what order was also very agonizing. Being true to our core values, it is just a lot easier to be open and honest and let everyone know sooner rather than later. Although this still feels a little weird as I write this, we don’t shy away from weirdness at Zappos, so here it is…

First, Rebecca (my wife and my true boss) and I are getting into the baby business. :) Rebecca’s now 9 weeks along and so far so good. I’ve learned more about the baby business than I would have even expected, like why, in general, you might not want to tell too many people until after the first 12 weeks. Or why, when a woman reaches a certain age, her pregnancy gets classified as a high-risk pregnancy. ;) (I am probably going to get hit over the head for that.) In any case, keep your fingers crossed and we are really delighted to share this happy news with all of you.

Over the past 2 months, Rebecca and I have talked a lot more about what is important to us and what we should do as a family. It is the general stuff you talk about, but you may only talk about superficially until it hits you that you are actually going to be a parent. As agonizing as it is for us to come to this conclusion, we really believe that the right place for us as a family is to move back to the SF Bay Area and be closer to some of our extended family.

To complicate the life discussions, if you had asked me 5 or 10 years ago what I am passionate about and what my higher purpose would be, I would have said that my calling is to help interpret the visions and dreams of entrepreneurs about how the world should be and help build businesses around those visions and dreams. So to that end, I wanted to be a venture capitalist and join Sequoia Capital. They’ve financed and helped built some really special and enormously successful companies, including Google, Yahoo, Paypal, YouTube, Cisco, Oracle, Apple, and also Zappos. I had explored joining them twice, but things never really worked out before. Recently, I went out to beers and then dinner with a few of their partners to catch up on life and in their inebriated state, they made the silly mistake of extending me a position on their team roster (although the envelope was actually marked “For Rebecca”).

You might be shocked to read that I have decided to leave Zappos. It has been a hard decision, and I am still in a bit of a daze myself, but I am also very excited. I have learned so much from all of you along our journey and I am excited to put that knowledge to work to help finance and help build companies in the special ways we have built Zappos. So the silver lining is that hopefully Zappos will give birth to other very special and enormously successful companies.

Tony, Fred and I have had a few conversations with some folks at Amazon and they are committed to helping us find the right person to fill my sample-size shoes (9D). As always with any Zappos employee, that person will, first and foremost, have to live and breathe the Zappos culture, and help continue the good work to build the Zappos brand, business, and culture, independent of Amazon.

Now that the news is out, I also want to assure you that I am not going anywhere anytime soon. I’m committed to Tony, Fred, Amazon, and each and every one of you to making this a very smooth transition. To that end, I plan to stay at Zappos through January 3, 2011. Of course, this timeline may change, since our business continues to grow fast and each and every one of you do such an amazing job that I am sure the transition can and may be completed sooner.

In any case, while parting is such sweet sorrow, it is not time to say our goodbyes yet. We have some work to do and always will…like taking first place in the Corporate Challenge relay tonight. Hope to see you there.

Update: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh emails employees.

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