Once upon a time... Mark Zuckerberg, Web designer

July 22, 2010

Before Mark Zuckerberg became a social media superstar, he was a simple web designer and student. Today many unpleasant details keep surfacing about this young billionaire's past.

The twenty something is the CEO and majority owner of the web's most valuable property right now, so you'd think he'd be all smiles. But the recent increase of sad-face emoticons on Zuckerberg's Facebook wall can be attributed to 2 things. First, a somewhat nasty unauthorized biographical movie about Facebook's humble beginnings. And second, a shocking lawsuit by a previously unknown web developer claiming he was sold 50% of “The Face Book” for the piddly sum of one thousand dollars.

Neither one of these things are complimentary to his image, but the latter is certainly the most worrisome. Six years go, before Facebook was a household name, Zuckerberg signed a contract with a website designer giving him a 50% stake in a new project that appears to have evolved into the social networking giant we know today. But it gets worse: a clause in said contract states that his stake would grow over time, now totaling 84% according to the suit.

It was called “frivolous” by lawyers, but a judge is taking the claim seriously and has ordered an injunction blocking transfers of Facebook stock. This is the second time Zuckerberg has been accused of wrongdoing during the startup era of the site. The first was from the boys behind “ConnectU”. They eventually settled out of court for an estimated 60 million dollars. How this issue was handled indicates that no matter how ridiculous the lawsuit may be, even the slight risk should be avoided, and this debacle will almost certainly end similarly.

This embarrassing new lawsuit comes to light as trailers are being released for a new movie inspired by the founding of Facebook. The movie is called “The Social Network”, and is has the tag-line “You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies”. And yes, the first claim is addressed, but this second one from the website developer might make a good sequel!

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