In The Social Network, a Hollywood portrayal of how Facebook got its start, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss enter then-Harvard President Larry Summers' office wearing matching suits and ties.
"From the looks of it they want to sell me a Brooks Brothers franchies," Summers' character says sarcastically of their intention. The brothers have another matter on their mind: they've come to tell Summers how they believe Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for an online social network.
In the movie, Summers wants little to do with their problem. "Since you're on the subject of right and wrong, this action, this meeting, the two of you being here is wrong. It's not worthy of Harvard, it's not what harvard saw in you."
The real Larry Summers sees some truth to the scene--and still does not seem sympathetic to the Winklevoss twins' claims.
At Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference, Summers discussed his depiction in The Social Network and dissed the Winklevoss twins.
"One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o'clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they're looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an asshole," he said during an interview at the conference, according to a Fortune transcript. "This was the latter case. Rarely, have I encountered such swagger, and I tried to respond in kind."
In response to interviewer Walter Isaacson's question, "So was that scene in the social network true?," Summers simply responded, "I've heard it said that I can be arrogant," adding, "If that's true, I surely was on that occasion."
Summers previously told the Boston Globe that he viewed his scene in The Social Network as fairly true-to-life.
"I’ve been told that the Winklevii say that the movie is wrong,’’ Summers told the paper. “Making adjustments for cinematic license . . . I would say the movie was fairly accurate.’’
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss also agreed with aspects of the scene: "It definitely captured the tenor of Larry Summers and how he dealt with us, the lack of tact," Tyler Winklevoss told Businessweek. "We came into the office not feeling good about the situation, and we left feeling certainly a lot worse."
The Winklevoss twins have sued Facebook and its CEO, the twins' former Harvard classmate Mark Zuckerberg, on several occasions. Recently, they decided not to appeal a court ruling to the Supreme Court, as they had initially planned. The decision the twins had planned to contest was a ruling against their claim that in their 2008 settlement with Facebook, worth $65 million, the company had misled them about the value of its stock.
Read more about Summers' remarks at the Brainstorm Tech conference--including his take on the debt ceiling talks and concerns about a tech bubble--on Fortune here.
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