Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

More on Zuckerberg’s Legal Woes

Don’t miss this very thorough article by Luke O’Brien from 02138, an independent magazine aimed at Harvard University alumni, that looks very closely in its current issue at the controversy (and lawsuits) related to the founding of this year’s hot Silicon Valley start-up, Facebook.


While Facebook execs have pooh-poohed all the noise, including legal action in Boston taken by photogenic twins named Winklevoss–mostly calling it sour grapes on the part of failed competitors–the collection of stories about founder Mark Zuckerberg’s behavior as a fledgling entrepreneur will surely raise some eyebrows, if only for the manner in which he defends himself in various statements he has made.

Which can pretty much be summed up as: Tough luck!

Here’s a choice selection from Zuckerberg’s letter to Harvard’s Administration Board, the college’s disciplinary committee that first looked into his tussle over work he did–or, more precisely, did not do–for the Winklevosses’ ConnectU service:

I try not to get involved with other students’ ventures, since they are generally too time-consuming and don’t provide me with enough room to be creative and do my own thing. I do, however, make an effort to use my skills to help out those who are trying to develop their own ideas for Websites… Perhaps there was some confusion, and I can see why they might be upset that I released a successful Website, while theirs was still unfinished, but I definitely didn’t promise them anything… Frankly, I’m kind of appalled that they’re threatening me after the work I’ve done for them free of charge, but after dealing with a bunch of other groups with deep pockets and good legal connections including companies like Microsoft, I can’t say I’m surprised. I try to shrug it off as a minor annoyance that whenever I do something successful, every capitalist out there wants a piece of the action.”

As the legal battle works its way through the system, mostly related to the question of whether Zuckerberg illegally stole the basic idea for Facebook, the one carry-away from the article is still astonishing–and also a little disturbing: Just how many enemies he has collected at such a young age.