Is Zappos Publicly Traded?

Last Updated on 04/28/2021 by GS Staff

Q: Can you buy Zappos stock?

Zappos is owned by the internet retail giant, Amazon.com. Zappos itself is not a publicly traded company, therefore you cannot purchase its stock. However, Amazon.com is public. It trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol AMZN. Of course, if you invest in Amazon, you will be investing in much more than just Zappos and the online retail business. Some of the notable acquisitions by Amazon since its inception have been Whole Foods, IMDB, Alexa Internet, Goodreads, Ring, and Audible. Zappos represents only a small portion of the whole that is Amazon Inc.

Zappos History

The concept of Zappos was developed by Nick Swinmurn. Swinmurn thought of the idea while working at Autoweb in the late 1990s. People weren’t purchasing much online at the time, however, Swinmurn discovered that 5% of shoes were bought through mail-order catalogs. He believed that if people were willing to purchase shoes through catalogs without trying them on, they would be willing to buy online.

Swinmurn had trouble with venture capital firms believing in his business in order to obtain funding. After several rejections by VC firms, Swinmurn came into contact with Venture Frogs operated by a young Tony Hsieh, and Alfred Lin. Keep in mind that Zappos wasn’t even a fraction of what it was today. The website was actually shoesite.com and it had minimal sales in 1999. Initial funding of $150,000 was collected from friends and family. Venture Frogs ended up contributing millions to the business with Hsieh becoming CEO up until August 2020. He was CEO for 21 years, even after the company was sold to Amazon.com for $1.2 billion in 2009. Hsieh died from smoke inhalation (caused by a house fire) shortly after his retirement from Zappos.

Publicly Traded Shoe Stores

Since Zappos is not publicly traded, here are some competitors that are public with shares readily available through most online brokers. You may wish to research the below companies for potential investment purposes:

  • Designer Brands – Designer Brands trades under the stock symbol DBI. You likely know the company best from Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) with its 500 stores located in the United States and Canada. Other brands by the company include The Shoe Company, Shoe Warehouse, Camuto Group, and Affiliated Business Group. 2020 total revenue was approximately $2.2 billion for DBI.
  • Foot Locker – The company trades on the NYSE under the symbol FL. They own several popular brands including Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Eastbay, Sidestep, and Footaction. The company operates more than 3,000 retail locations in over 25 countries. 2020 sales were approximately $7.5 billion.
  • Shoe Carnival – Shoe Carnival trades under the symbol SCVL. It has over 380 stores in 35 states and is online at shoecarnival.com. The company focuses on offering name brand and private label footwear for the whole family. 2019 annual revenue was over $1 billion.
  • Genesco – The company is publicly traded under the symbol GCO on the NYSE. It is the company behind popular brands such as Journeys, Journeys Kidz, Schuh, Johnston & Murphy, Little Burgundy, and Dockers Footwear (licensed from Levi Strauss). 2020 fiscal year revenue was about $1.79 billion.

References:
Yarow, Jay. “The Zappos Founder Just Told Us All Kinds Of Crazy Stories – Here’s The Surprisingly Candid Interview.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 28 Nov. 2011, www.businessinsider.com/nick-swinmurn-zappos-rnkd-2011-11.

Image Credit – Robert Stinnett/flickr