Social Networks, Mark Zuckerberg And Winklevoss Twins
Posted On June 26, 2011
The Winklevoss twins (Tyler and Cameron) have many claims to fame, but none as fascinating as their role (alleged) in the formation of Facebook. It is a story about how they missed the chance to own the world’s most popular social network. It’s also an insight into Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s alleged opportunistic streak.
Most importantly, there is a massive amount of money at stake here. The whole kerfuffle is boiling over and getting global publicity not just because it involves one of the biggest tech startups in the world. It’s also because there’s an Oscar-winning movie in the picture, so to speak.
Then there’s also the fact that both Winklevoss twins are Olympic rowers who participated in the Beijing Olympics. They were born in Southampton in New York state on August 21, 1981. They were brought up in Greenwich, CT and ended up in Harvard University studying economics.
Midway through their 2000 to 2004 stay in Harvard, Tyler and Cameron and a fellow student named Divya Narendra cooked up a plan to connect Harvard students using a social network. It was to be called HarvardConnection and they were planning to expand to include students from other universities. The three of them then hired another student as a programmer to work on the code for the project.
After a couple of programmers had done some partial work on it and left, Mark Zuckerberg was brought in to finish it up. It was almost 2004 by hen and Zuckerberg continued to work on it while developing his own social network simultaneously. He launched his own version called thefacebook.com before HarvardConnection could be completed.
HarvardConnection was eventually launched and it was then renamed as ConnectU. This entity then proceeded to file suit against Facebook claiming that Zuckerberg had appropriated their idea for Facebook and even used source code that was developed for HarvardConnect. After years of wrangling and counter-lawsuits, both sides eventually agreed to a $65 million settlement in 2008.
Subsequently, what made the story even more famous was that it was a prominent part The Social Network, a film about Facebook. The film went on to get 8 Academy Award nominations, and ended up winning 3 Oscars. As if that were not enough to spread the word, ConnectU went back to court with a claim that Facebook had misrepresented the value of shares they had been given in the settlement.
Stock worth $45 million was allotted to them, but ConnectU claimed it was closer to $11 million. That was back in Aug 2010, at which time the market value of the stock allotted to them was around $120 million. If the court agreed to revise the amount of stock they should get, the market value of the new settlement would have been somewhere near $466 million.
But that did not happen. Instead, a U. S. Appeals court ruled in April 2011 that the original settlement was satisfactory and the case should end here. Needless to say, the Winklevoss twins beg to differ and are intent on pursuing further legal options. The entire saga has irony and the harsh realities of life written all over it, and it’s a good bet there’s more to come.
Get the low down on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss Twins now in our guide to all you need to know about winklevoss