The founding of Facebook is an oft-told tale: The social media site was started in a Harvard dorm room by the ambitious (and sometimes socially awkward) sophomore Mark Zuckerberg. What followed was a period of stunning growth punctuated by, among other things, rows over intellectual property.
Thanks to Harvard alum Aaron Greenspan, a former acquaintance of Zuckerberg's, the web now has a fresh peek behind the scenes of Facebook's early days. Greenspan recently published on his blog private exchanges from 2004 between himself and Zuckerberg.
During their back-and-forth via AOL Instant Messager, Zuck touches on his troubles with fellow classmates Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins who famously accused the Facebook co-founder of ripping off their social networking concept, ConnectU. The twins brought Zuckerberg to court and were awarded a $65 million settlement in 2008; they continued to appeal the settlement, stopping only at the Supreme Court in 2011, according to Reuters.
Here's what the younger Zuck had to say about the Wiklevii, per Greenspan's IMs:
Zuckerberg then discusses the features of Facebook the Winklevoss twins accused him of stealing. Later in the conversation, Greenspan makes a few interesting comments about intellectual property, while Zuckerberg suggests that creative ideas aren't "really anyone's" and that the Winklevoss twins shouldn't be spreading rumors:
So why are these IMs just coming to light now? Well, according to Business Insider, Greenspan has been trying to prove for years how some of his own ideas were stolen by Zuckerberg. Greenspan also later tried to sue the studio that produced the "The Social Network," a film dramatizing the founding of Facebook, for not including his side of the story.
"It turns out that my 'Other folder' contained some of the most important legal evidence regarding the origins of Facebook, Inc. that I had been trying to find for years, but without much success," Greenspan wrote on his blog. "…[I]t's striking how different the context is between the way these conversations portray the beginning of Facebook, and how the opening scenes of The Social Network portray the beginning of Facebook."
But while these IMs offer an intriguing view into Zuckerberg's younger years, there's no hugely damning evidence against Facebook's CEO. "[T]he biggest crime Zuckerberg seems to have committed is hurting a former friend's feelings," Business Insider notes.
This isn't the first time that Zuckerberg's private messages have been made public. When New York businessman Paul Cegila sued Facebook for part-ownership rights, email correspondences between himself and Zuckerberg were used by the court as evidence. In these messages, Zuckerberg demands money after working with Ceglia on his website, StreetFax.com, and eventually drifts away from Ceglia as he becomes more engrossed in Facebook's development.
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