Did Zuckerberg Steal Facebook?

Here is a fascinating article about the lawsuit three former classmates have filed against Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that he stole their ideas and built Facebook.

The media have mostly glossed over ConnectU Inc. v. Facebook Inc., now unfolding in a Boston courthouse. Most articles depict the case as either a cash grab or a blip on Facebook's march to global domination. But interviews with people familiar with the lawsuit, and a close examination of court records, suggest that, at the least, the case raises troubling questions about the ethics of this new billionaire.

The plaintiffs are three Harvard grads: Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, twin rowers currently training for the Beijing Olympics, and Divya Narendra, who since graduation has worked in finance in New York and Boston. In 2002, the three friends dreamed up an online social network called Harvard Connection (subsequently renamed ConnectU), later asking Zuckerberg to finish programming it. Instead of fulfilling his end of the bargain, the plaintiffs say, Zuckerberg stole their ideas and source code to build his own competing social network. "We got royally screwed," Narendra says in a deposition.

I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I'm not taking an anti-zuckerberg stance, but it sounds like the plaintiffs have a decent case. It will be interesting to see what kind of settlement arises if they win.

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  1. Karsten's Gravatar Comment by Karsten on November 28th, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    From what I have seen over the years, this happens a lot more frequently than most would care to admit. Ideas and concepts are nebulous things, and hard to protect unless you have an army of lawyers at your disposal. These guys are going to have a tough battle ahead seeing as they are fighting a person who now has practically bottomless pockets with which to fight it out in the courts. They will lose the war because its not a fair fight from the start.

    You steal Microsoft’s IP, they will destroy you financially. You are a thief.

    Microsoft steals your IP, they will destroy you financially. You can’t afford the litigation.

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