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The guy who says he owns 50% of Facebook produces E-Mails
April 12, 2011 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Paul Ceglia has refiled his lawsuit against Zuckerburg and Facebook. With a much larger law firm. And a lot more evidence. Ceglia has produced more than a dozen of what he says are emails between him and Mark Zuckerberg from July 2003 to July 2004, the year in which Facebook was created.

In these purported emails, which we have included below, Zuckerberg and Ceglia discuss "the face book" project in detail. They discuss how Ceglia will fund the project. They discuss how Ceglia has funded the project (proof of payment). They discuss how Zuckerberg has met some upperclassmen--the Winklevosses, presumably--who are pursuing a similar project, and how Zuckerberg is "stalling" them. They discuss how Zuckerberg has failed to complete the "face book" project on time. They discuss the launch of the face book, which Ceglia agrees looks great.

Two months later, Zuckerberg writes Ceglia an email telling him he's thinking of shutting down the Facebook site, because he's too busy to work on it and there's little interest in it among students. (This is while Facebook is growing like crazy). Ceglia gets really pissed off, and starts accusing Zuckerberg of pulling "criminal stunts."
posted by jeanmari (89 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is Facebook even the same Facebook it was in 2003 and 2004?
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:04 AM on April 12, 2011


TwelveTwo, I'm not sure that question is germane..
posted by k5.user at 11:10 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


They should make a movie out of this!
posted by bstreep at 11:10 AM on April 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


Everybody thinks "The Social Network" is the best movie about forming a new startup, but they are wrong. The best movie is "Ghostbusters". Via
posted by nushustu at 11:13 AM on April 12, 2011 [53 favorites]


Zuckerburg will win this based on Rules of the Internet sections 9, 14, 19, 25, 26, 30, and at some point 34 (inevitable).
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this something I'd have to have a facebook account be on the internet own a television know how to drive have friends be a venture capitalist to care about?
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2011


Hey, Matt... remember those e/mails, where we talked about that InternetFilter project?? remember those...? back in June of '99, and you were all, like, "hell no, I don't have time, I just bought a scanner and my cat is playing with it and OMG, look at this..." about it?

My attorney will be in touch with you...
posted by tomswift at 11:18 AM on April 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


[mutter] smug fratboy... [/mutter]

I would be happy if Ceglia takes facebook away and trashes it.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:19 AM on April 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Do I back Ceglia in the hopes that this is the thing that kills Facebook?

Or do I back Zuckerburg in the hopes that he himself is the thing that kills Facebook?
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on April 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Here's a link to the amended complaint for those who don't like Henry Blodget's tabloid voice.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:21 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Assuming DLA Piper did their due diligence (and I think that can be assumed) Zuckerberg's fortunes might be about to make a major.... about face.

YEEEEEAHHHHHHH!!!!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:21 AM on April 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


Why do so many people want to see Facebook killed? Why not just not use it?

I personally enjoy having a website where I can see what my grade school acquaintances and second cousins are up to without having to actually talk to them.
posted by windbox at 11:24 AM on April 12, 2011 [30 favorites]


Look, guys, it's very simple.

If Paul Ceglia had invented Facebook, he'd have invented Facebook.
posted by timdicator at 11:25 AM on April 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


DLA Piper aren't the kinds of attorneys you find on the back of the phone book, though the sheer magnitude of the potential settlement might be enough to convince even a white shoe firm like them to take this on. We're talking attorneys fees well into nine figures here.

If Paul Ceglia had invented Facebook, he'd have invented Facebook.

Cute, but not exactly the claim. The claim is that he funded Facebook, and Zuckerberg then defrauded him, a partner in the venture, by misrepresenting the situation when he "bought out" Ceglia. It's a different claim from the Winklevosses' entirely.
posted by valkyryn at 11:28 AM on April 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


If Paul Ceglia had invented Facebook, he'd have invented Facebook.

"Mark, that's your answer to everything."
Do you want a cup of coffee?
"If I wanted a cup of coffee, I'd have a cup of coffee."
Do you want to go to six flags this weekend?
"If I wanted to got o six flags this weekend, I'd buy six flags this weekend."
Do you want to take over the world?
"Yes."
posted by Fizz at 11:29 AM on April 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Why do so many people want to see Facebook killed? Why not just not use it?

The internet was built on the binary system. You either love something and constantly talk about how much win it is filled with or else hate it and constantly remind people how much you hate it.
posted by bondcliff at 11:29 AM on April 12, 2011 [21 favorites]


Is DLA Piper taking the case on contingency? If not, then aren't they just happy to charge their exorbitant hourly rates no matter the merits of the case?
posted by gyc at 11:30 AM on April 12, 2011


Assuming DLA Piper did their due diligence

DLA Piper is at least claiming that they did due diligence, including analyzing the contract to make sure it was altered.

Is DLA Piper taking the case on contingency? If not, then aren't they just happy to charge their exorbitant hourly rates no matter the merits of the case?

I'd be shocked if DLA Piper ever did anything on contingency; I think the fear is that without some kind of a win, Ceglia wouldn't be able to pay them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:31 AM on April 12, 2011


windbox: "I personally enjoy having a website where I can see what my grade school acquaintances and second cousins are up to without having to actually talk to them."

So do I. But I'd also like it if the website was transparent about privacy issues, respected people's right to share only what they wished with who they wished, and didn't mercilessly spam me with crap like Zynga. That and outright stealing every photo you upload (check the TOS) makes me try as hard as possible to use the site only for commentary, and post all my media on sites that allow me to retain ownership and control of my stuff. If I want people to see a video or a photo, I put a link on Facebook and put the media somewhere else. (I don't repost it on FB - that's essentially the same as hosting it there. I simply drop a link.)

We use the site because there is currently no simple alternative. If something better comes along, the place will empty out faster than you might believe.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


Amen, caution live frogs.
posted by weston at 11:35 AM on April 12, 2011


All the lampreys trying to get an undeserved piece of Facebook's success have made the otherwise detestable Zuckerberg look good.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:35 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


There actually is a simple alternative to Facebook. You might have heard of it? The Internet.
posted by DU at 11:36 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


That and outright stealing every photo you upload

Shit. I have forfeited the rights to potentially lucrative crappy phone pics of my kid sitting on the potty.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:37 AM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ceglia's story itself is extremely plausible, I could easily see a project like Facebook starting out the way it does in the emails and someone like Zuckerburg attempting to trick his early investor into nullifying the agreement. And Ceglia is not just some random guy, Facebook itself agrees that the Streetfax part of the contract is real. The only thing that makes it seem fishy (other than his previous fraud conviction) is that he waited so long to sue.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:39 AM on April 12, 2011


for those who don't like Henry Blodget's tabloid voice.

Personally I care a lot more about the fact that he's an unrepentant fraudster who was responsible for some of the worst dot-com cheer-leading. Personally, I think being banned from the securities industry for life should mean you also shut up about stocks and business news, but apparently it doesn't work that way.
posted by zachlipton at 11:41 AM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


A mere human, kill Facebook? It's beyond that, now. Far beyond that. Not even the President of the United States of America could make it go away.

Only something better (for certain values of better) could. For many people here, that better means privacy. Privacy doesn't sell ads. At the end of the day, Facebook-Replacement has to make money. Either the members can fund it or the members and their data can be packaged and resold to corporations who would love to roll around in that data, mmm, mmm, mmm.

Ah, but Facebook-Replacement is on the Internet and the Internet means free. Few want to pay cash (directly) for "stuff" on the Internet.

Unless something potentially feature-awesome appears and just blows Facebook out of the water with ease of everything, shazam (and simply perpetuate the cycle), Facebook (or its replacement) will continue to exist as a data-mining company focused on people until people resign themselves to essentially paying for not having their data sold.
posted by adipocere at 11:42 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like to tell people I use the "Italian version", pronounced "Fah - cheh - book".
posted by mmrtnt at 11:47 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I post to it from my Itallan cell phone, my "chellular"
posted by mmrtnt at 11:48 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shit. I have forfeited the rights to potentially lucrative crappy phone pics of my kid sitting on the potty.

http://stfuparents.tumblr.com/
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:50 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate to burst everyone's bubbles but...

"Ceglia said he looks forward to a day when he might employ Zuckerberg again.

'If at some point in the future I start running Facebook, I guess I’m going to have to hire him to keep running the company,” Ceglia said. “I really don’t have much interest in it.'"

posted by Blasdelb at 11:50 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


We use the site because there is currently no simple alternative

I, quite simply, don't -- and being told that the only way to interact with someone is via FB means that I tell them that I will not be interacting with them. If you are dealing with marketing or customer relations, then this is harder, true (but you shouldn't be using your individual account for this anyway.)

I look at it this way. I refuse to be a free source of the product that FB sells. Since they require a real identity, and I'm not willing to give up mine (at least, not without compensation), we don't have a transaction.

Being on FB perpetuates FB. If you want FB to change how it does business, your only leverage is your account. Your only vote is "do you keep that account or not."

Enough people walk away, and they will change, or they will die. If you stay with them, they have absolutely no reason to change how they do business with you.

Quit giving your life away for free. And if someone tells you that they won't call you, won't email you, won't IM you -- will only converse with you via FB, then, well, I suggest you don't talk to them.

Because, brothers and sisters, they really don't want to talk to you.
posted by eriko at 11:51 AM on April 12, 2011 [23 favorites]


Nothing better than hipster-hating-on-Facebook. You don't like it, don't use it, but for God's sake, don't tell the rest of us why we shouldn't use it.

That being said, I wonder if Ceglia understands how he comes off (admittedly in large part by way of "The Movie") with this neverending attempt to get $.
posted by kuanes at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Paul Ceglia had invented Facebook, he'd have invented Facebook.

Exactly. It's not a new idea, now or then. (Friendster, MySpace, et nauseum)

People get fixated on the idea, when it's the implementation that counts.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why do so many people want to see Facebook killed? Why not just not use it?

Because it makes a few people very rich based almost entirely off network effects rather than real value added.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:56 AM on April 12, 2011


When I was in college, I spent most of the time getting high, drunk and screwing girls. Apparently at Harvard everyone is either inventing companies, investing in startups or dropping out to start a company? Maybe I did something wrong ...
posted by geoff. at 11:56 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everybody thinks "The Social Network" is the best movie about forming a new startup, but they are wrong. The best movie is "Ghostbusters".

Not Ghostbusters 2?
posted by chillmost at 11:58 AM on April 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Dollars to donuts DLA Piper is doing this on contingency. With any win years in the future, there's no way they are expecting this guy to pay their rates.
posted by eugenen at 12:04 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone thinks that no one person could kill Facebook... but I think a judge would be capable of putting it into a permanent coma if the case goes in strange (and never ending) ownership directions.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:06 PM on April 12, 2011


But does DLA Piper have to win? Or just get a decent settlement for Ceglia?
posted by jeanmari at 12:10 PM on April 12, 2011


Cute, but not exactly the claim.

If I had wanted to bother to find out even the most basic information concerning the case before making a smartass remark, I would have bothered to find out even the most basic information concerning the case before making a smartass remark.
posted by timdicator at 12:10 PM on April 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


caution live frogs: "That and outright stealing every photo you upload (check the TOS)"


The relevant portion of facebook's TOS:

You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.


This sort of licensing (as far as I can tell) is primarily to allow facebook to aggregate and republish your material in stuff like the news feed, the friendship overview pages, or those sidebar "old photos/status updates" things. Facebook is not going to publish your photos or poetry in an anthology or something, and their license ends as soon as you delete your photos.

Calling this "stealing every photo you upload" is disingenuous at best, especially since this is bog standard for just about any TOS where users submit content. In the magical fantasy world where Metafilter finally has a TOS, there will probably be a similar license grant on comments, to enable usage of comments in Recent Activity or the sidebar. and it would be silly to accuse Metafilter of "stealing every comment we post."
posted by grandsham at 12:12 PM on April 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


"win" is a verb, not a noun. please, please..
posted by tomswift at 12:12 PM on April 12, 2011


And if someone tells you that they won't call you, won't email you, won't IM you -- will only converse with you via FB...

Wait... who are these people? People say this?

Facebook's utility is its ubiquity. There might be alternatives that are better at protecting your privacy but they will be fundamentally worse, at least until there's an entirely new technology that catches on, because most people aren't that worried about their privacy, and they will remain on Facebook. It's really the only game in town as far as a nearly universal means of keeping up with a large number of casual acquaintances.

But... I was unaware there was any group of people who are relying on it as a primary means of communication.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 12:12 PM on April 12, 2011


Facebook's utility is its ubiquity. There might be alternatives that are better at protecting your privacy but they will be fundamentally worse...

Unless you value, y'know, privacy.

NO TRUE NAMES, PEOPLE!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:15 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do I back Ceglia in the hopes that this is the thing that kills Facebook?

Or do I back Zuckerburg in the hopes that he himself is the thing that kills Facebook?


DU, did you know that, if you don't like facebook, you don't have to make an account if you don't want to?
posted by Aizkolari at 12:21 PM on April 12, 2011


But does DLA Piper have to win? Or just get a decent settlement for Ceglia?

They'll take a sizable chunk of any award or settlement.
posted by eugenen at 12:21 PM on April 12, 2011


"win" is a verb, not a noun. please, please..
Nice punctuation fail.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:24 PM on April 12, 2011


I use Facebook because I have no reason not to. And I've taken the requisite 5 minutes to make sure I'm not exposing anything to the outside world that I don't want to; It's really not that hard. When I run into someone who refuses to be on Facebook, I think they're being antisocial and a little silly. Yeah, you have some principled reason for not being on there, and blah blah blah blah blah, but the bottom line is that I can't see your random witty thoughts and you can't see mine, and you've shut off a zero-effort channel for keeping in touch, and yeah, that's kinda lame. But it's like, whatever. I have a friend who doesn't have a cellphone, and I think he's hilarious. I mean yeah, he's still my friend, but I never see him because he lives across the Bay and I can't just randomly text him when I'm out somewhere.

And yeah, I don't like Facebook's privacy bullshit. Nobody does. That's why, on consumer sentiment surveys, they rank about even with airlines and cable tv providers. Doesn't mean we aren't going to use it. Just means we'll jump ship as soon as something better comes along. Oh yes, I know, Facebook is eternal, blah blah blah blah blah, half million users, blah blah blah blah blah. And people make this point over and over again because they assume that replacing Facebook would involve building a more compelling social network -- when in reality, it means building something that makes its service irrelevant.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:25 PM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Ceglia said he looks forward to a day when he might employ Zuckerberg again. “I really don’t have much interest in it.'"

Son, two words for you: wood pellets. This internet thing is a flash in the pan. Wood pellets, that is the future.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:28 PM on April 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


"And I've taken the requisite 5 minutes to make sure I'm not exposing anything to the outside world that I don't want to; It's really not that hard."

It is a mistake to post anything there you don't want exposed to the outside world. You may have locked down your settings, but they have a penchant for revising them and defaulting to wide open. Last I heard any apps authorized by your friends can access their feed and any information you've published there.
posted by Manjusri at 12:34 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


But... I was unaware there was any group of people who are relying on it as a primary means of communication.

Yes this is strange but I know people who I will have to contact via FB, even if they have e-mail, etc. Usually these people aren't as tech savvy and use FB as their primary means of communication and will not necessarily check their e-mail as often, or for whatever reason, respond to FB messages but not e-mail.

I don't get it, I find it annoying and it is the only reason I have FB. It was great in college, it really was an invaluable tool, but now I'm just seeing people get married, have kids, post pictures of their kids, etc. and ... I just, don't care.
posted by geoff. at 12:44 PM on April 12, 2011


But... I was unaware there was any group of people who are relying on it as a primary means of communication.

I've had people who teach college tell me their department had to get a Facebook account to send announcements to students because so may students don't bother with email anymore.
posted by straight at 12:45 PM on April 12, 2011


Why do so many people want to see Facebook killed? Why not just not use it?

I don't want to see it killed, and don't think that this lawsuit will kill it (or Mark Zuckerberg's career) - I'm just interested in the legal questions. I don't use FB because I just don't find much value in it; that is, I have an account but only log in once every few months. And when I do log in, it's usually to run some script using my API key, in order to analyse what other people are doing. As a consumer, it just doesn't do anything for me.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:04 PM on April 12, 2011



"win" is a verb, not a noun. please, please..

Nice punctuation fail.


"fail" is a verb, not a noun. please, please..
posted by Kabanos at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


DLA Piper doesn't put itself out there unless it is damn sure of the veracity of these emails that Ceglia suddenly "remembered" he had. I'm not sure what kind of "scientific testing" they did on the emails to ensure they were not copypasta but I'm guessing they did all the due diligence money can buy.

I actually heard last week that Goldman is putting together a syndicate to fund the DLA Piper litigation in return for a share of whatever Ceglia winds up with. That part is actually a lie, but it feels true.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:11 PM on April 12, 2011


When I run into someone who refuses to be on Facebook, I think they're being antisocial and a little silly. Yeah, you have some principled reason for not being on there, and blah blah blah blah blah, but the bottom line is that I can't see your random witty thoughts and you can't see mine, and you've shut off a zero-effort channel for keeping in touch, and yeah, that's kinda lame.

You know, not everyone feels the need to constantly broadcast to the entire world what they're thinking right now, nor does everyone possess the required effort to ingest the sum-total of all their various associates musings on a daily basis. I certainly don't. I have no problem telling people I'm not on Facebook and have no plans to be in the future. If that makes me kind of lame, I'm really quite OK with that.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:12 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Zuck-Ceglia emails really read like they're not fabrications, and I'm sure the law firm has proved pretty conclusively that they're real. Ceglia comes across as a small-time, scrappy, somewhat dickish businessguy and Zuck comes across as a massively entitled, rather unsavvy douchecock, which is consistent with the prior impression I have of both of them.
posted by killdevil at 1:18 PM on April 12, 2011


The internet was built on the binary system. You either love something and constantly talk about how much win it is filled with or else hate it and constantly remind people how much you hate it.

I'm going to take an iPhone photo of myself crying in the bathroom mirror, post it to my Twitter feed which updates my FlickrTumblrFacebook feed. THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW THE GREAT INJUSTICE I FEEL!1

(Actually I have pics of me playing guitar on Facebook which is a whole nother breed of Attentionis Whorimus)
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:19 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anyone seen any legal commentary around the traps yet on this??

What would be the difference in risk/reward if FB was listed on the stock exchange when this action was filed?
posted by peacay at 1:27 PM on April 12, 2011


I have a stupid question. If all Zuckerberg was asking for from Cegalia, Saverin and others was small amounts of money, $1000 here and there, why didn't he just ask his parents? They clearly had it. One parent was a shrink and the other a dentist (I think). And they were wealthy enough to send him to Exeter. So why did he bother with these idiots and contracts and everything?
posted by Pastabagel at 1:42 PM on April 12, 2011


why didn't he just ask his parents?

The only way for him to reliably get in touch with his parents was on Facebook, and it didn't exist yet, so...
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:46 PM on April 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


What would be the difference in risk/reward if FB was listed on the stock exchange when this action was filed?
posted by peacay at 4:27 PM on April 12


I'm willing to bet the reason Facebook has not yet gone public is precisely because of the uncertainty over Cegalia's involvement. Either the banks wouldn't underwrite an IPO until the matter was settled one way or another, or Zuckerberg knew in the back of his mind that Cegalia's claim was legit and he kept making up reasons not to take the company public.

Zuckerberg's real problem is not Cegalia. His real problem is that if Cegalia wins, it means that Zuckerberg lied to every single other investor, which means they are going to go after whatever share of the company he has left.

Again, if you want $1000 to start a business, ask your parents or grandparents. If nothing else, it's puts your shame in the game as well as your skin, and that will motivate you.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:48 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


> But... I was unaware there was any group of people who are relying on it as a primary means of communication.

Their older siblings (by now, maybe parents) were the ones who asked you "Are you on AOL? (The internet, what's that?)"



> It is a mistake to post anything there you don't want exposed to the outside world.

It's a mistake to post anything anywhere that you don't want exposed to the outside world.
posted by jfuller at 2:04 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


If they rule in favor of Ceglia, does this mean that David Fincher will make a special edition of The Social Network with him CGIed in, like Jabba the Hutt in Mos Eisley?
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:04 PM on April 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Zuck-Ceglia emails really read like they're not fabrications, and I'm sure the law firm has proved pretty conclusively that they're real. Ceglia comes across as a small-time, scrappy, somewhat dickish businessguy and Zuck comes across as a massively entitled, rather unsavvy douchecock, which is consistent with the prior impression I have of both of them.

I can believe it I guess, but why would Zuck agree to such a strange deal? Ignoring the penalty for launching late, he still valued the entire site at $2,000 by selling a 50% stake in it for $1,000. That valuation means he thought the idea was worth as much as a couple of Aeron chairs at a dotcom's cube farm. A wide-eyed Harvard student has to figure his idea is worth more than that. I haven't seen any reason to believe he was that hard up for cash or he thought his idea was that worthless, so why on earth would he give up such a huge stake for so little money? He wasn't stupid.

And the penalty for launching the site late makes even less sense. I can't see anything in the complaint that indicates that the agreement actually specified what the site was supposed to consist of. Who would sign an agreement that had a substantial penalty for failure to perform on time without specifically delineating all the tasks that were to be accomplished?
posted by zachlipton at 2:04 PM on April 12, 2011


Has anyone seen any legal commentary around the traps yet on this??

A friend of mine who specializes in early-stage capital formation in Silicon Valley describes it (without passing judgment on the merits or NY law) as 'a decidedly bad turn for Mr. Zuckerberg.' At the very least, the involvement of a high-powered firm like DLA Piper means a long spell of legal trench warfare.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2011


I can believe it I guess, but why would Zuck agree to such a strange deal? Ignoring the penalty for launching late, he still valued the entire site at $2,000 by selling a 50% stake in it for $1,000.

Maybe because he planned on screwing over the guy, like almost everyone else he involved at the beginning.
posted by oneironaut at 2:36 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I run into someone who refuses to be on Facebook, I think they're being antisocial and a little silly. Yeah, you have some principled reason for not being on there, and blah blah blah blah blah, but the bottom line is that I can't see your random witty thoughts and you can't see mine, and you've shut off a zero-effort channel for keeping in touch, and yeah, that's kinda lame

That's harsh, there's some people who just don't really like Facebook and don't get much out of the experience. It doesn't have to be a "principled reason", it can be something quite practical like maybe your friends are entrpreneurs and also using Facebook for business-related networking and maybe off-color/political/in-jokes/what-have-you messages like you might share in person aren't really appropriate. As for casual acquaintances, I don't really think about them much and probably don't need to share all kinds of stuff with them anyway. I guess I'm kinda lame? The cell phone thing, sure. I can rarely spot a pay phone anymore so I have no idea how people go without cell phones. Also smart phones have video games and software that tells you what song is playing.
posted by Hoopo at 2:49 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only something better (for certain values of better) could. Only something better (for certain values of better) could. For many people here, that better means privacy.

No, something better can't. Facebook has critical mass, it has social network externality. It has lock-in. MySpace lost because it only had critical mass in one age range; LinkedIn is losing because it has only businesspeople; and any new entrant will lose because it will have only people who care about some specific "value of better". That's why Facebook is worth $50B.

The only groups that can constrain Facebook's grown now are the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, and the government of China.

If Paul Ceglia had invented Facebook, he'd have invented Facebook.
Exactly. It's not a new idea, now or then. (Friendster, MySpace, et nauseum)
People get fixated on the idea, when it's the implementation that counts.


No, this applies to the Winklevoss twins, who claim that Zuckerberg stole their idea. Ceglia claims that Zuckerberg stole his investment. And more than the idea, more than the implementation, it's the capital that counts.

Look, I've been in the position of a partner in a general partnership one of whose partners had abandoned the project. Without a partnership agreement clearly spelling out other rules, there's nothing you can legally do to reduce your partner's equity except to come to a deal they find acceptable.

If the documents that Ceglia's offering even might hold up in court, Facebook is going to pay him off — probably in equity, and probably out of Zuckerberg's share. Because their investors have no reason to accept even a small chance at a massive loss.

I can believe it I guess, but why would Zuck agree to such a strange deal?

Because he was a college freshman, coding up a student directory like the one at his high school. He had no idea it would become a hugely valuable business.
posted by nicwolff at 2:53 PM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Facebook has critical mass, it has social network externality. It has lock-in.

So had AOL and CompuServe before it, to name but two. A billion dollars ain't what it used to be, either.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:56 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


By the middle of the decade, any person who had ever spoken with Mark Zuckerberg before the year 2005 will have sued their way into fractional ownership of Facebook.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:16 PM on April 12, 2011


This story and the Winklevoss story are both fascinating. A lot of startups have complex founding stories that are generally forgotten after the company is successful. Facebook has two very public messy stories that are continuing lawsuits, not to mention the complex story of Eduardo Saverin.

All of this is a lesson to you entrepreneurs out there: get the founding documents of the company right. Write everything down and get a lawyer to review it. It sounds like a total pain in the ass, and it's expensive, but if what you're building is valuable it's important to get it right from the beginning.
posted by Nelson at 3:47 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


If Paul Ceglia had invented Facebook, he'd have invented Facebook.

Um, timdicator was making a joke.

His quote is from a line in the film "The Social Network." The line itself has become somewhat of a meme.
posted by ericb at 3:53 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


“The best line in the movie was Zuckerberg saying [to the Winklevoss brothers], ‘If you had invented Facebook, you would have invented Facebook,’’’ said [Sam] Lipoff. “It captured his attitude perfectly.’’*
posted by ericb at 4:10 PM on April 12, 2011


Am I the only one noticing a big drop off in Facebook use among their friends? Sure the Aol. types are still there, farming and sharing jokes, but the better-connected trend-setter types have pretty much entirely moved on, apart from still using the event invitation system.

Perhaps it's just my set hitting a certain age, but I don't think so.
posted by bonaldi at 4:42 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one noticing a big drop off in Facebook use among their friends?

I think there are a lot of Facebook lurkers -- a few days ago I posted some big news, and I was surprised to see that people who never post were favoriting it within minutes. And looking at my own usage, I post maybe once a week, but read it multiple times a day.
posted by statolith at 5:34 PM on April 12, 2011


back Zuckerburg in the hopes that he himself is the thing that kills Facebook?

If calling people who trust him enough to use his software 'dumb fucks' and that didn't kill the use of Facebook - no...he won't kill it.

Not to mention the backers would toss him under the bus if the choice was keep the Z'ster and lose Facebook or lose Mark and keep Facebook...I'm guessing the speed with which the tossing would happen would cause space-time to warp to a point where the event which caused the tossing would never have happened.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:14 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


well Facebook is mine too ... had same idea in 1897 ... so Zuckerberg must pay me copyright on an over 110 years idea hihihi
posted by marcobergilleni at 7:34 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


So had AOL and CompuServe before it, to name but two.

CompuServe, Prodigy, Delphi, AOL, and the rest each had both one- and two-sided network effects until the Internet came along. But their one-sided effect was weak; some of your friends were on one service and some on another. If you felt locked to one, it was for the two-sided effects: you stuck with CompuServe because you liked the CB Simulator, or with AOL because you played Neverwinter Nights. None of them ever had anything like Facebook's level of lock-in, where the people its users know who aren't in the network are the exception.
posted by nicwolff at 10:59 PM on April 12, 2011


This is like the world-series of poker.

If Ceglia's claim is bullsh*t, he and DLA Piper stand to make a reasonable amount of "go-away money".

If Ceglia's claim is valid, he and DLA Piper stand to make even more "go-away money".

In the case of the former -- ie. Ceglia takes a small settlement -- the juggernaut will continue unabated as it rolls over this speed bump.

If the case is the latter -- ie. Ceglia holds out for a larger settlement or even trial -- Facebook may find itself in a substantial crisis. These kinds of crises impact everything from brand value to investor confidence to CEO ability to execute. In this case, some of FB's investors may try to jump ship, in which case Zucker has two crises to deal with, each of which drains away time from leading the beast.

Each side knows what cards are in hand and we're now seeing the flop roll out -- with the emails and contract authenticated by DLA Piper.

Let's see how the betting commences.

Personally, I think Zucker deserves a bit of discomfort. He missed a page on authenticity from Jobs and Gates. It's fine to be an assh*le with vision as long as you are up-front about both parts, thus people know what they're getting.

Zucker seems to be an assh*le in sheep's clothing as he tries to navigate the line between being a quiet gentle nerd ('I study Mandarin every morning so that I can meet my girlfriend's family and live in a simple house like Buffett') and power-hungry capitalist ('All your photos are belong to us! Privacy is dead! I did it all by myself and had no help from anyone!')

Once again, the new-money problem of arrogance and belief in technical righteousness. Old money would have paid this dude a healthy sum, made him happy, torn up the contract, and it would have been a new article in Bloomberg somewhere between pork belly prices and Guatemalan bond yields.

Personally, I would like to Zucker get what's coming to him, whatever that is. It's a bit Tigerish tho. One mistress. Two mistress. Three mistresses. At some point, the house of cards comes down.

If this is bullsh*t, he deserves a little needle to remind him not to make stupid contracts. If this is real, he deserves to get taken to the cleaners and deal with whatever comes after that.
posted by nickrussell at 2:48 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


But does DLA Piper have to win? Or just get a decent settlement for Ceglia?

Same thing, really.
posted by valkyryn at 5:18 AM on April 13, 2011


Zuckerberg's real problem is not Cegalia. His real problem is that if Cegalia wins, it means that Zuckerberg lied to every single other investor, which means they are going to go after whatever share of the company he has left.

God, the schadenfreude that evoked was so strong that I actually <>>felt it.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:09 AM on April 13, 2011


None of them ever had anything like Facebook's level of lock-in, where the people its users know who aren't in the network are the exception.

Relative to the number of internet users, this is not actually true. Consider that while Facebook is valued at a Staggering! Fifty! Billion!, AOL at its peak was valued at $166 billion. And that was in year 2000 dollars, which would be $208 billion now accounting for inflation.

NickRussell, you're allowed to say asshole and bullshit on MetaFilter without putting in silly little asterisks.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:13 PM on April 13, 2011


I was sad about the AOL-Time-Warner bustup because I had hoped Facebook would buy it, and whatever the next mega-thingie in line is would then buy Facebook-AOL-Time-Warner and add its own name, and so on down through the rest of time.
posted by jfuller at 2:04 PM on April 13, 2011


Relative to the number of internet users, this is not actually true

You aren't getting it. The point is that AOL et al had lock-in only relative to the number of each other's users, and lost their lock-in quickly once they because mere ISPs. Now, Facebook has strong lock-in on the Internet, which is very different.

Of course, you could start a competing Internet too. Good luck with that.

Consider that while Facebook is valued at a Staggering! Fifty! Billion!, AOL at its peak was valued at $166 billion.

AOL was overvalued; I'm suggesting that Facebook might not be. In any case, they're in different businesses, so I'm not sure why you keep mentioning it. If you think $50B isn't a lot of money for a social network, uh, OK, but MySpace maxed out at $12B. LinkedIn is hoping to IPO around $2B.
posted by nicwolff at 3:39 PM on April 13, 2011


More Stunning Emails to Come in Facebook Ownership Lawsuit.
posted by ericb at 1:53 PM on April 14, 2011


The point is that AOL et al had lock-in only relative to the number of each other's users, and lost their lock-in quickly once they because mere ISPs. Facebook has strong lock-in on the Internet, which is very different.

No it isn't. The internet population was much smaller at the time; AoL had great lock-in relative to the number of people who were active users of the internet at the time, and everyone assumed that share would stay constant or increase. That was why they were able to swallow Compuserve like a guppy. Facebook could buy AoL now if it were minded to do so, but there is no particular reason to think there is anything special inevitable about the size of its market share, any more than there was about AoL's. Take a look at some stats; Facebook's main competitor in the 'social networking' space is YouTube, which doesn't even bother to bill itself as a social network. But Facebook only pulls ~10% of all visits.

This is nothing special. The reason that it is like AoL is because Facebook doesn't really offer a great deal of utility to its users. You can find people on there easily, and it appeals to people who like to keep up with what each other is doing and want their internet experience mediated by FB. 80% of that traffic is coming from 20% of the users - again, an entirely predictable pattern. If you think this constitutes unassailable lock-in, then I invite you to consider how it was that Google was able to cruise past Lycos, Yahoo and other titans of search circa 1998. Building up a new social graph is not that hard.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:12 PM on April 14, 2011


geoff.: now I'm just seeing people get married, have kids, post pictures of their kids, etc. and ... I just, don't care

Get better friends.
posted by Lleyam at 12:44 AM on April 15, 2011


anigbrowl, you pretty clearly don't understand what lock-in and network externality are – it isn't "market share" – and I haven't time to educate you. YouTube doesn't bill itself as a social network because it hasn't successfully become one, so the stats you link to show Facebook with, essentially, no competitors, reinforcing my point not yours. By their count Facebook gets more visits than Google – so apparently its users think it does offer a great deal of utility.

And Twitter would kill for an 80%/20% traffic pattern.

"Building up a new social graph is not that hard."

Well so far, it's proven too hard – after multiple attempts each – for Google, Apple, and Microsoft. But I'm sure you're right, they just don't really understand this stuff the way you do.
posted by nicwolff at 8:23 AM on April 15, 2011


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