A software developer who worked with Kim Kardashian on her lucrative ‘Kimoji’ app claims he’s been left financially ruined and is living out of his car.
David Liebensohn, 43, and two colleagues invented the Kardashian-themed emoji range, which resulted in thousands of downloads a second and the app supposedly generating $1million a minute.
But they didn’t see a cent after their deal fell apart after what he claims were misunderstandings and Kim and her no-nonsense lawyer Marty Singer gave them little option but to walk away from developing Kimoji, losing out on a fortune.
Liebensohn sued Kim for $300million in 2019 claiming she stole his idea, ran away with the trademark, telling DailyMail.com: ‘If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I want everyone to know the truth about the Kardashians.
‘I refuse to be gagged.’
But Kardashian’s team says that Liebensohn willingly signed away all rights to the app, giving Kim ‘unfettered’ ownership of Kimoji, and noted that his claims against her were rejected by an LA Superior Court judge.
David Liebensohn invented a Kardashian-themed emoji range called ‘Kimoji’ – an app that generated $1million a minute – but he didn’t see a cent of its profits and is now living out of his car after their deal went south
Their deal fell apart in a series of phone calls and Kim took on Kimoji alone netting a potential fortune
‘Kimoji’ which resulted in thousands of downloads a second, with the app generating $1million a minute. Kanye West even rapped about in his 2015 song Facts: ‘Kimoji just shut down the app store! And we made a million a minute, we made a million a minute!’
Kim Kardashian shows preview of new Kimojis for Autumn 2017
Liebensohn and his colleagues had initially agreed on a deal with Kardashian’s team for a profit-share on Kimoji and an anti-cyber bullying app they’d created called CensorGram, which Kim was eager to be the face of before the deal went south.
Kim’s ex husband Kanye West even rapped about the success of the app in his 2015 song Facts: ‘Kimoji just shut down the app store! And we made a million a minute, we made a million a minute!’
Liebensohn says he was forced to withdraw his $300million lawsuit as his legal fees spiraled out of control, along with the rest of his life.
He lost his home, his $2million business and his family, he told DailyMail.com. He now lives in his 2011 Toyota Prius to save on rent and showers in the gym.
Liebensohn says he’s got nothing left to lose and has created a website www.kimkardashianruinedmylife.com using the only technology he owns – an iPhone 13.
He was living in Oklahoma City but has now moved to Los Angeles, where he’s been waving a placard on the streets of Hollywood saying, ‘Kim Kardashian ruined my life’ which he hopes will gain on and offline traction.
Liebensohn admits he’s bitter and can’t let go of the situation.
‘I thought people might want to know about this story, what have I got to lose right now by telling it?’ he asked.
‘I’m literally sleeping in my car. I might as well put all this in a story that people can maybe make some sense out of, and see what happens.
‘I lost my wife, my kids blamed me, they had a rough time at school, they were teenagers at the time and idolized that family – Kim and her sisters – then this happened and it destroyed us.’
Liebensohn now lives in his 2011 Toyota Prius to save on rent and showers in the gym. He created the website www.kimkardashianruinedmylife.com
In his lawsuit, Liebensohn states that along with two partners, Narayan Shankar and his cousin Daniel Rice, he developed CensorGram in 2014 to protect social media users’ accounts from bullying and spammers, while also developing ‘sexy’ emoji content, which attracted Kim’s attention.
Kim’s close friend, Jonathan Cheban, allegedly got in touch to arrange a meeting and potential investment as she ‘loved the idea’, eventually meeting at Kris Jenner’s home in Calabasas in July 2014, where Liebensohn’s lawsuit alleges that they agreed to a 60/40 split on Kimoji in favor of Liebensohn and his partners, and 50/50 on CensorGram.
‘I had other high profile people highly interested in working with us, but the Kardashians just happened to have the biggest following, that celebrity endorsement was going to be huge,’ he said.
‘She was going on and on about wanting to be the face for anti-cyber bullying, and so it just seemed like we could jump all in with her, and the world was our oyster.’
Kim’s close friend, Jonathan Cheban, got in touch with Liebensohn in 2014 to arrange a meeting and potential investment as she ‘loved the idea’
Liebensohn and his colleagues had agreed on a deal with Kim’s team for a profit-share on an anti-cyber bullying app they’d created called CensorGram, which Kim was desperate to be the face of. Cheban posted these comments on CensorGram’s public Instagram profile, with Liebensohn responding to him
Private Instagram message conversations between Liebensohn, his business partners and Jonathan Cheban are seen in screenshots shared with DailyMail.com
According to Liebensohn’s lawsuit, Kardashian insisted in a phone call that her team file the Kimoji trademark application herself, so that ‘there was no need for them to bear the cost’, but then it all went sour five minutes later when she angrily dialed back to say she had a screenshot of an email sent by Shankar to a mutual friend, which contained personal information, and she said it was being sent out to ‘all of Chicago’.
Liebensohn said, ‘Without my knowledge, one of our partners took a picture of some words on a page that Kim used in our CensorGram app. No user handle or private info. Just a little clip of a screenshot to brag. Privately between him and a friend.
‘This friend was jealous and actually had a friend in Chicago that knew someone in Kim and Kanye’s world. They intentionally sent the screenshot in the hope it would interfere. It did.
Liebensohn says he was left terrified when Kim’s attorney Marty Singer fired out a legal threat for causing Kim ’emotional distress and defamation’
‘Kim backed out and threatened to sue us for $5million.’
They were left terrified when her Hollywood attorney Singer fired out a legal threat for causing Kim ’emotional distress and defamation’, and demanded they sign a settlement agreement, which would release them from facing a potentially financially ruinous lawsuit on the condition that they walk away from any future development of Kimoji and never spoke publicly.
‘That letter scared the sh*t out of us, I was shaking, I felt like my life was ending. They’re going to take my house, they’re going to take over everything I have if we don’t hand over Kimoji and the rights to do her own CensorGram,’ Liebensohn said.
According to the settlement sent by Singer to Liebensohn and colleagues and seen by DailyMail.com, it indicated that both parties could continue to develop the apps as long as they didn’t use Kim’s name, KK branding or likeness, and she didn’t use CensorGram’s copyrighted software.
Nevertheless, Liebensohn felt that neither app was worth pursuing if it didn’t have Kim’s backing, especially if they couldn’t use her name or brand.
The other two signed, but Liebensohn refused, walking away ‘with nothing except financial and personal losses, while Kardashian West profited from his work without just compensation,’ his lawsuit states.
In a declaration, business partner Rice admitted to signing for Liebensohn.
At the time of the Kimoji app’s launch in December 2015, it was reported to be making $1 million a minute, with Kardashian even sending Apple a joking apology, tweeting: ‘Apple, I’m so sorry I broke your App Store!!!’
Although Kardashian never spoke publicly about how much she profited from Kimoji, she also allegedly made a fortune from the launch of her line of Kimoji fragrances in July 2018, with TMZ reporting that she’d netted $5million in the first five minutes of them being on sale.
Liebensohn’s life fell apart. He’d put his life savings into the business and had gone all in with Kardashian who took the Kimoji app and made a fortune after acquiring the rights.
Liebensohn’s business partnership broke up and the financial stress caused a strain on his marriage.
He then filed his $300million lawsuit, but with Kardashian’s bottomless money pit and Singer’s doggedness, Liebensohn, who was using a retired attorney’s services, never stood a chance.
An email sent by Kim’s assistant to set up the first and only meeting at Kris Jenner’s Calabasas home in July 2014, where they agreed to a 60/40 split on Kimoji in favor of Liebensohn et al, and 50/50 on CensorGram, according to the lawsuit
Liebensohn filed a lawsuit against Kim in 2019 for $300million, but was forced to withdraw it as his legal fees spiraled out of control, along with the rest of his life
He was, he claims, wrongly advised to withdraw the suit after getting into $200,000 worth of debt from legal fees.
At the time, Singer said the suit was ‘ridiculous and absurd’, that Liebensohn had waited four years to claim the agreement wasn’t binding and then filed the ‘meritless lawsuit’ after unsuccessful arbitration.
A rep for Kim Kardashian points out that Liebensohn’s claims were rejected by an arbitrator and a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court in favor of Kim in 2020.
‘We couldn’t even get to the stage where we could show evidence in court and get them to explain themselves. They’re just so good at skating around the truth and I was going to basically need to come up with another $100,000 or more to keep playing the game in court,’ says Liebensohn.
‘My lawyer told me to withdraw the lawsuit, which I did, which was a nightmare.
‘I had to sell my house to fund the legal fight after already putting everything into the business, which was once worth $2million and fell apart after the Kardashian incident.’
After losing his home and splitting from his wife, Liebensohn twice contemplated suicide, and ended up where he is today, sleeping in his car in a LA.
‘I’m going to be fully honest, I definitely thought about not being here a couple times. I thought about taking my life twice. But I send money to my kids every week back to Oklahoma and it just reminds me that I need to be here for them,’ he adds.
After reaching his lowest point, Liebensohn decided to tell his story online, rationalizing that the Kardashians can’t financially or emotionally harm him, as he has zero to lose.
Liebensohn says: ‘I realized that I could sit here in my car and do nothing. It’s not like I’m even hanging out watching TV at home, as I don’t have a home. So I’m just going to spend every single spare second of my time on this phone. I’m going to create a website, all from my phone. And I’m going to tell the story.’
Marty Singer demanded they sign a settlement agreement, which would release them from facing a potentially financially ruinous lawsuit if they walked away from any future development of Kimoji and never spoke publicly. While his business partners signed, Liebensohn refused, with colleague Daniel Rice signing for him
In a declaration, Daniel Rice admitted to signing for Liebensohn ‘in fear for all of the partners’
‘Now I’ve nothing to lose and am getting viral attention on Reddit, TikTok and I’ve been putting a few signs around California. People have been taking pictures of them, reading my story online and sharing it.
‘I definitely didn’t make the best decisions, I kick myself for a lot of it for sure, but I’m not a bad guy or businessman.
‘I’m not greedy. I just want a life back to where I’m not having to, at 43 years old, worry about how I’m going to survive.’
‘It triggers me over and over again when I hear something about the Kardashians or Jenners. Hearing Kanye’s song Facts where he says ”Kimoji just shut down the App Store, we made a million a minute.”
‘It’s really tough to avoid getting triggered when they are everywhere on TV and online,’ Liebensohn said.’ I didn’t sign any NDA, I can shoot from the hip.
‘I want it to be known what fully happened to me. I just needed to put it on a website and tell a cohesive story.
‘I blame them for all of it. Because before I met them, I was on a positive trajectory. After that, everything that I’d worked for started going downhill to the point where I’m now sleeping in my car. They’re 1,000% to blame.
‘I do the car camping to save money and not spend it on rent right now. I can take showers at a gym and work around it, it just makes more sense for me to be in my car. To survive, I do Amazon Flex, GrubHub and DoorDash.’