Posted June 26, 2008 5:50 pm by with 11 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Social networking site ConnectU sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for stealing their idea. They allege he used the source code they hired him to create for their site.

Now four years later Facebook is celebrating their four year anniversary, and that the lawsuit against them is finally settled – in Facebook’s favor. Facebook asked that the case be dismissed, for lack of evidence, and that happened. ConnectU then filed another lawsuit against Facebook in March, which is now closed.

Yesterday Judge James Ware of Federal District Court in San Jose, Calif., stood behind a February settlement between the companies. Also named were Zuckerberg’s Harvard classmates, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra.

Facebook now has upwards of 39 million members and expanded to go beyond college students. ConnectU is said to have 15,000 members at 200 schools.

There is plenty of drama behind the suit and the story of Facebook’s beginnings. Zuckerberg’s writings say that he was drowning his sorrows in his dorm room after he got dumped. He may have lost in love, but he came up with a plan. He’d hack into Harvard’s student directory, download photographs of students, and post them online. He said the pictures were awful and compared them to farm animals. He decided to let people rate which was better – the people or the animals. That alone is funny.

As part of the suit, ConnectU questioned Facebook’s valuation of $15 billion and if the original settlement was valid. They noted that the valuation in the press release about Microsoft’s investment in Facebook, and the valuation given by Facebook’s board of directors didn’t match.

Then they said the father of the twins (and ConnectU shareholder) named in the suit, Howard Winklevoss, didn’t sign the original settlement, making it invalid. That didn’t work.

Facebook countered saying ConnectU signed the settlement and knew exactly what they were doing, saying: “ConnectU’s founders were represented by six lawyers and a professor at Wharton Business School when they signed the settlement agreement. The ConnectU founders understood the deal they made, and we are gratified that the court rejected their false allegations of fraud.”

Rolling Stone wrote a 5-page article on the battle over Facebook. From that article, one of my favorite lines from Zuckerberg, (remember this is coming from the mind of a teenage coder who decided to study psychology) is this insight:

“People are more voyeuristic than what I would have thought.”

His angst, programming skills, and that insight have turned a very quick success. And it appears that Zuckerberg is vindicated.

  • If these allegations are true, I feel for ConnectU.. There could be nothing more frustrating than someone stealing your idea and being more successful with it.

    Rick NHS’s last blog post..Permian Basin Home Sales Up

  • I want to see the Grads vs. Animals version of Facebook as originally envisaged

  • Even I would like to see that comparision. Is that page still available on Facebook? I guess ConnectU could do that now and get back at Facebook.

    Eva White’s last blog post..Holiday Plans?

  • Cogratulations to Facebook!!!

  • It doesn’t feel like closure though, guess we’ll be hearing from Zuckerberg soon. I just hope he won’t come up with a new social network, there’s a limited amount of voyeurism the world can take…

    Otilia Otlacan’s last blog post..Publicis Groupe Launches VivaKi, a New Growth Engine for the New Media and Digital Environment

  • It just goes to show, “ideas” are a dime a dozen. The real value is in the individual(s) who roll up their sleeves and go to work putting those ideas into action.

    EZ Marketing Tool’s last blog post..An Imaginary Land of Ease and Luxury

  • Agreeing with the commenter above — it’s all about execution and it’s a shame if they truly did grab the idea and run with it but this happens all too often and once you’re the big guy, it’s hard for others to take you down.

  • Well Done Face Book!!! Too right too.

  • I guess we would never know who was truly right and who was wrong. Lets hope the verdict was correct because otherwise I feel for ConnectU.

    Mr Marketing’s last blog post..My way of generating revenue with BANS (Build a niche store)

  • What is it with little companies that can’t compete in the business world, then decide to hire a team of lawyers to sue a more successful company and recoup their loses that way. That’s not a business model, but desperation.

    Top Rated Digital’s last blog post..The Top 10 Digital Cameras Ripped Apart

  • The big dogs seem to always win. If you have a good idea you need to make sure you don’t let it out of the bag or it will get swiped away.