Monday, 14 February 2011

How Much Was The Mark Zuckerberg And Winklevoss Settlement? What Really Happened?

Apparently, $65 million is not enough to go around. At least, not according to the Winklevoss twins. They have a court settlement with Facebook for $65 million, but now they want at least $100 million more than that. 

Why they're pushing for a much bigger settlement is anyone’s guess, since they come from a very wealthy family and are not exactly hurting for money in the first place. Or could it simply be a matter of principle?

Let’s start at the beginning, before the Mark Zuckerberg and Winklevoss settlement and their latest appeal to settle for more, in fact, before the lawsuit was filed.

You may be forgiven for wondering what it is that these two have against Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, or what they're really after anyway, especially given the very hefty initial settlement. Granted, Zuckerberg is the youngest self-made billionaire in the world, but both the Winklevoss twins are extremely good-looking, quite wealthy, and Olympian rowers for good measure.

The Winklevoss Twins' Claim

So here it is. The Winklevoss’ claim that Facebook was their idea, and Zuckerberg stole it. According to the twins, they and their friend Divya Narendra came to Zuckerberg while he was still at Harvard, studying psychology and computer science. They had an idea, and they wanted him to make it a reality, and he told them that he would. That idea was a social-networking site, ConnectU, that would connect Harvard students. And then, according to the Winklevoss’, Zuckerberg grabbed that idea, ran with it and never looked back!

The Winklevoss Twins' Lawsuit

In 2004, they filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Zuckerberg, and several of his friends that co-founded the company. Three years later, the case was dismissed due to a technicality, but the Winklevosses did not give up. They re-filed the lawsuit right away in Boston, but Facebook was ready for them and counter-sued for a project they had started with another company called Social Butterfly. Finally, in 2008 they reached an agreement and the case was settled, or so they thought. Facebook agreed to give the Winklevoss twins $20 million in cash, and transferred 1.2 million common shares into their name.
So, you may ask, how is it that the Mark Zuckerberg and Winklevoss settlement still rumbles on? Well, the Winklevoss twins feel that Facebook was not disclosing it’s actual worth and that it is worth far more than they were led to believe. And they want their fair share. This time, Facebook seems to be preparing to fight them.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Defense

Zuckerberg has a good story on his side, too. He has always been a computer programming prodigy. He’s been programming computers since he was in sixth grade, and he left his high school in his junior year to attend Phillips Exeter Academy. It was here that Zuckerberg first started working on his social-networking site, which was an application that had the students’ phone numbers and photographs.
He graduated in 2002 and went on to Harvard. From his dorm room, he built two other applications (or programs). The first was called CourseMatch, which let users make class decisions based on other students’ reviews and comments. The other program was called FaceMash. FaceMash compared two students’ photos and the users in his dorm picked which one was hotter. According to Zuckerberg, these two programs formed the basis for Facebook. There was a need for it, the students were asking for it, so he built it. He then went on to include several other Universities, and eventually the world.

The End, For Now..

It is not clear if the truth will ever come out. We might never know whose idea Facebook really was, because all we have is one word against the other. Unfortunately, we might also never know if this will really be the last of the Mark Zuckerberg and Winklevoss settlement. In the meantime though, watch this space!

» Next article: The Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin Settlement.
« Previous article: The Mark Zuckerberg Story.


Joseph said...

I really hope that this will be for the good of both groups. The amount paid is a bit high but it can definitely change everything.

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I’ve been hearing this news and a lot of speculations on it. I just wish that this case would be settled and find out whose idea Facebook really was.

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