Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, has a promising career as a cult leader. In a blog post, the online shoes-and-clothes retailer's boss acknowledges the layoffs his employees were Twittering about this morning, writing that the company had laid off 8 percent of its workforce. He all but admits the cuts were forced on him by investor Sequoia Capital. The severance packages are generous in comparison to most startups; two months or more of pay, and six months of health insurance. Sweet enough, perhaps, that people won't ask a key question about the layoffs."Tony cares about his company and his employees more than anyone else around," says an entrepreneur who knows Hsieh. His employees, even the former ones, seem to be returning the favor on Twitter. But if he loved his employees so much, why didn't he resist the pressure from Sequoia to make the cuts? We hear Sequoia is insisting that all of its portfolio companies cut payrolls by around 10 percent, regardless of the particulars of their businesses. Zappos seems to be doing well in its e-commerce niche — well enough, at least, to afford a generous severance. Hsieh's company offers free returns if the shoes its customers buy don't fit. Why didn't he just mark Sequoia's orders "return to sender"?
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