Anger, fear, and heartbreak: the top five episodes from the Color lawsuit

Few lawsuits are as interesting as the one filed against Color yesterday, and even fewer are as entertaining.

The lawsuit paints a picture of a company crippled by fear and led by a manic, abusive CEO. There’s anguish, there’s anger, and there are even moments of inter-family drama. It’s really good stuff.

Worth keeping in mind, however, is this: We don’t know all the facts of the situation, and while we’ve repeatedly reached out to Color and Bill Nguyen, we’ve yet to get a response from either. So for now, the lawsuit is the only version of the story we have. And here are five of the most notable insights from it.

The kids aren’t alright

The relationship between Adam Witherspoon (who filed the lawsuit) and Nguyen began to fall apart as a result of fights between their kids. The feud steadily got worse over time and was rarely pretty.

Nguyen told another cofounder of Color, former Chief Financial Officer Alyssa Solomon, that Witherspoon’s son was a “wimp” and “uncoordinated” and that Nguyen did not want his children to socialize with Witherspoon’s son.

With friends like these…

The weakening relationship between Nguyen and Witherspoon reached its absolute low when Nguyen unfriended Witherspoon on Facebook.

This was highly unusual, because the mobile application that Color based its business model on relied on Facebook interaction.

Nguyen as tyrant

According to the lawsuit, Color CEO Nguyen was often erratic, physically abusive, and hostile towards employees. Witherspoon even claims that Nguyen once humiliated an employee by firing him over the phone with other Color employees listening in.

In this phone call, Nguyen screamed at, humiliated, and fired Charoo over the phone. After the call, Nguyen announced this incident to the entire Color team as an example of what would happen to them if they made a mistake. Defendant Nguyen had in the past hurled numerous profanities against Charoo, such as telling him to “Shut the fuck up, dumb ass” in a meeting.

Armed and dangerous?

There are even claims that Nguyen brought an armed Inspector’s General employee into Color’s offices in an attempt to intimidate employees.

Defendant Nguyen bragged to Color employees – including Plaintiff Witherspoon and Indelicato – that Dunphy was able to put employees who crossed Nguyen on no‐fly lists, have those employees’ credit ruined, and was otherwise able to get those employees into other types of trouble, by virtue of Dunphy’s position at the OIG.

The Apple connection

Color’s deal with Apple dates back until at least September, but it didn’t include Witherspoon, who says he was explicitly left out of the transition to Apple because of Nguyen’s grudge against him.

When Plaintiff Witherspoon inquired about his potential future in a phone call, Defendant Nguyen falsely stated, “I think you would be crucial to what we are trying to do at Apple.” Defendant Nguyen ensured [sic] Plaintiff Witherspoon he would be part of the transition team to Apple.

Here’s the full suit.

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