Longtime friend, former assistant, and business colleague of the late Tony Hsieh is Jennifer “Mimi” Pham. 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 asserts that in addition to back money, she is also entitled to a portion of future earnings for a number of transactions that failed after Hsieh’s passing 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. On February 5, Pham’s legal representatives submitted her case to the Nevadan Clark County District Court.
This is simply the most recent lawsuit brought on behalf of a business Pham and Hsieh co-managed. Her Baby Monster LLC filed a complaint last month, asserting that it is due $1.2 million. She claims that she and Hsieh had a contract for her to employ consultants to perform due research on potential investments. It is alleged that hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees are still outstanding to those contractors. According to this lawsuit, Hsieh and Pham were so close that he frequently used her mobile number for communication. The address listed on both Hsieh and Pham’s driver’s licenses was the same. The court filing said that Pham was his “assistant, right-hand person, and friend” for 17 years.
Hsieh left behind an estate that was worth $850 million at the time of his passing. On November 27, 2020, Hsieh perished in a Connecticut house fire. Tony had two massive business wins during his life: In 1998 he sold a business called LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million. He traded $1.2 billion in Amazon stock for Zappos in 2009. Sadly, it was discovered that Tony left no will and a very disorganized estate. Tony’s estate was given to his brother Andrew and father Richard as joint executors. Hsieh’s father and brother allegedly sent a notification to terminate the contract last month, according to a court document.
Hsieh became the CEO of Zappos in 2000. One of his first choices was to move the corporate headquarters of Zappos from San Francisco to Las Vegas, noting the lower cost of labor and real estate there than in the San Francisco Bay area. Zappos generated an incredible $1.6 million in revenue in his first year as CEO. Zappos’ annual revenues reached over $1 billion nine years later. 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. The core values of the Zappos family, as described by Hsieh, guide the company’s internal culture. Online, Zappos’ customer service has received nothing but praise. Zappos sells customer service, not shoes, according to frequent commentator Hsieh. This is obvious. The business started selling single shoes in 2020 for those who don’t require two pairs.
Following the sale to Amazon, Hsieh continued to work at Zappos and rented the former downtown location of the Las Vegas City Hall to relocate the business as well. Due to this, he decided to invest $350 million in the Downtown Product, a Las Vegas redevelopment project intended to create a startup community and revive the downtown area. The area has been in decline for more than 25 years, but Hsieh saw opportunity where others saw blight, shady motels, and homeless people.
Hsieh passed away at the age of only 46. He passed away two weeks before turning 47. Hsieh was unmarried with no children at the time he died, which might be one reason he neglected to make any official plans for what would happen to his fortune. After working for Zappos for 21 years, he retired as CEO in August 2020.
Hsieh’s estate would most likely have to deal with further cases in addition to Pham’s. According to a report in the “Wall Street Journal,” the walls of Hsieh’s $30 million Park City mansion were covered in hundreds of Post-It notes. Each one contained a pledge to support an idea. These Post-It notes, unfortunately for his estate, might be construed as binding contracts. The executors of Tony’s estate must now look into each and every Post-It note and possibly follow through on the funding to avoid more lawsuits and, in a way, to carry out Tony’s wishes.
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