Apr 7, 2016 · 2 minutes

Mark Rowland, CEO of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project Ventures, is leaving the organization, according to sources in Las Vegas. [Update: Rowland has confirmed his departure.]

Rowland was previously the CEO of Wagamama Australia and moved to the Downtown Project in 2014. 

Less than a year ago, Rowland and I had a somewhat contentious discussion on Vegas NPR affiliate KNPR about what I saw as serious deficiencies in Hsieh's operation of his Las Vegas project [Hsieh is an investor in Pando.] Rowland's response was that, in tech-style startups, one should expect a certain amount of bluster.  He also acknowledged that he was "not a fan" of Hsieh's beloved Holocracy management style. 

Rowland's departure is just the latest in a string of high profile departures from the Downtown Project, which has also seen two founders and one student worker reportedly commit suicide. Meantime, almost 20% of Zappos employees have chosen to quit over Hsieh's implimentation of Holacracy at the Vegas-based company.

As recently as January, Rowland was hyping the DTP in the media, while acknowledging that a "lack of humans" was a major limiting factor. 

“There are some really awesome things that I think have been successes in the last year,” Rowland said.

Despite the successes, Rowland admits density of people is one of the biggest problems downtown Las Vegas still struggles.

“Biggest challenge we have in downtown Las Vegas is the lack of humans, the lack of foot traffic,” he said.

The number of feet on the ground has just dropped by two. I texted Rowald, asking him to confirm the departure and also to explain his reasons. He sent me a copy of the email he sent to his DTP colleagues:

Hi everyone,

As you know today is my last day with DTP, and as CEO of DTP Ventures, I am transitioning back to my previous role as CEO of ROCeteer.  I will remain working in our community as a coach and mentor to our portfolio investments so I will still be seeing you around.

As you all know I joined DTP at a time when our culture was not defined; we were uncertain about self management; there was not a lot of understanding within the entire team about our financial situation; we were not financially sustainable, there was confusion in the community about DTP and there was no real definition of the various areas of DTP.  I am pleased to say that, as a result of your hard work DTPv is now clearly understood, as is Real Estate and the other areas of DTP;  we have created and defined our core values; we have created our own version of self management; we are in a much better place financially; we have created stronger ties within our community; we all understand our financial formula and are on trend to achieve our sustainability goals.  

It has been an absolute honor and a pleasure working with you all this last 14 months and I wish you all every success for the future.  My heart is with DTLV and I will continue to do whatever I can to support this amazing community.  I am grateful for the support that I received from you all as well…. thank you :)

Going forward you can reach me at [REDACTEED] and my mobile is staying as [REDACTEED], I hope to stay in close contact.

Happy regards



Mark Rowland

Community Actualizer | DOWNTOWNPROJECT