Jennifer “Mimi” Pham is a longtime friend, former assistant to, and business partner of the late Tony Hsieh. She’s suing Hsieh’s family for breaching contracts she had to manage Hsieh’s business affairs in the months leading up to his death. She claims she is owed not just back pay but also a share of future profits for a number of deals that fell apart after Hsieh passed away last year. Among those deals is the management of an event venue in Park City Utah, as well as the time she spent trying to launch a documentary production company for Hsieh. Attorneys for Pham filed her complaint on February 5 in Clark County District Court of Nevada.
This is just the latest lawsuit filed on behalf of a company Pham co-managed for Hsieh. Last month, her Baby Monster LLC filed a lawsuit claiming it is owed $1.2 million. She alleges that she had an agreement with Hsieh to hire contractors to do due diligence on investments Hsieh was considering. Allegedly those contractors are still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees. This lawsuit reveals that Hsieh and Pham were so close he used her cellphone number as his main contact number. Hsieh and Pham had the same address on their driver’s licenses. The court filing said that Pham was his “assistant, right-hand person, and friend” for 17 years.
At the time of his death, Hsieh’s estate was valued at $850 million. Hsieh died in a house fire in Connecticut on November 27, 2020. Tony had two massive business wins during his life: In 1998 he sold a business called LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million. In 2009 he sold Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion in Amazon stock. Unfortunately, it was revealed that Tony left a very messy estate and no will. His father Richard and brother Andrew were made co-executors of Tony’s estate. According to a court filing, Hsieh’s father and brother issued a notice last month to suspend the contract.
Hsieh is best known as the founder and CEO of Zappos. After founding (and selling) a number of tech companies, Hsieh (alongside Alfred Lin) turned to the idea of selling shoes online in 1999. At first, Hsieh was not convinced that this was even a remotely viable idea. But, after learning that the footwear industry in the U.S. (at the time) was a $40 billion market, with almost no sales occurring through the internet, he changed his mind.
In 2000, Hsieh joined Zappos as CEO. One of his first decisions was to relocate Zappos corporate headquarters to Las Vegas, citing the relatively reasonable cost of labor and real estate compared to the San Francisco Bay area. In his first year as CEO, Zappos earned an impressive $1.6 million in revenue. Nine years later, Zappos’s revenues had grown to over $1 billion per year. Along the way, Zappos started to earn a reputation for having an amazing corporate culture that focused acutely on employee happiness and providing the best customer service of any retailer. Zappos’ internal culture is governed by what Hsieh…