The origins of facebook have been in dispute since the very week a 19
The origins of Facebook have been in dispute since the very week a 19-year-old MarkZuckerberg launched the site as a Harvard sophomore on February 4, 2004.Then called "thefacebook.com," the site was an instant hit. Now, six years later, the sitehas become one of the biggest web sites in the world, visited by 400 million people amonth.The controversy surrounding Facebook began quickly. A week after he launched the sitein 2004, Mark was accused by three Harvard seniors of having stolen the idea fromthem.This allegation soon bloomed into a full-fledged lawsuit, as a competing companyfounded by the Harvard seniors sued Mark and Facebook for theft and fraud, starting alegal odyssey that continues to this day.New information uncovered by Silicon Alley Insider suggests that some of the complaintsagainst Mark Zuckerberg are valid. It also suggests that, on at least one occasion in 2004,Mark used private login data taken from Facebooks servers to break into Facebookmembers private email accounts and read their emails--at best, a gross misuse of privateinformation. Lastly, it suggests that Mark hacked into the competing companys systemsand changed some user information with the aim of making the site less useful.The primary dispute around Facebooks origins centered around whether Mark hadentered into an "agreement" with the Harvard seniors, Cameron and Tyler Winklevossand a classmate named Divya Narendra, to develop a similar web site for them -- andthen, instead, stalled their project while taking their idea and building his own.The litigation never went particularly well for the Winklevosses.In 2007, Massachusetts Judge Douglas P. Woodlock called their allegations "tissue thin."Referring to the agreement that Mark had allegedly breached, Woodlock also wrote,"Dorm room chit-chat does not make a contract." A year later, the end finally seemed insight: a judge ruled against Facebooks move to dismiss the case. Shortly thereafter, theparties agreed to settle.But then, a twist.After Facebook announced the settlement, but before the settlement was finalized,lawyers for the Winklevosses suggested that the hard drive from Mark Zuckerbergscomputer at Harvard might contain evidence of Marks fraud. Specifically, they suggestedthat the hard drive included some damning instant messages and emails.The judge in the case refused to look at the hard drive and instead deferred to anotherjudge who went on to approve the settlement. But, naturally, the possibility that the harddrive contained additional evidence set inquiring minds wondering what those emails andIMs revealed. Specifically, it set inquiring minds wondering again whether Mark had, in
fact, stolen the Winklevosss idea, screwed them over, and then ridden off into the sunsetwith Facebook.Unfortunately, since the contents of Marks hard drive had not been made public, no onehad the answers.But now we have some.Over the past two years, we have interviewed more than a dozen sources familiar withaspects of this story -- including people involved in the founding year of the company.We have also reviewed what we believe to be some relevant IMs and emails from theperiod. Much of this information has never before been made public. None of it hasbeen confirmed or authenticated by Mark or the company.Based on the information we obtained, we have what we believe is a more completepicture of how Facebook was founded. This account follows.And what does this more complete story reveal?Well offer our own conclusions at the end. But first, heres the story:"We can talk about that after I get all the basicfunctionality up tomorrow night."In the fall of 2003, Harvard seniors Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and DivyaNarendra were on the lookout for a web developer who could bring to life an idea thethree say Divya first had in 2002: a social network for Harvard students and alumni. Thesite was to be called HarvardConnections.com.The three had been paying Victor Gao, another Harvard student, to do coding for the site,but at the beginning of the fall term Victor begged off the project. Victor suggested hisown replacement: Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard sophomore from Dobbs Ferry, New York.Back then, Mark was known at Harvard as the sophomore who had built Facemash, a"Hot Or Not" clone for Harvard. Facemash had already made Mark a bit of a celebrity oncampus, for two reasons.The first is that Mark got in trouble for creating it. The way the site worked was that itpulled photos of Harvard students off of Harvards Web sites. It rearranged these photosso that when people visited Facemash.com they would see pictures of two Harvardstudents and be asked to vote on which was more attractive. The site also maintained alist of Harvard students, ranked by attractiveness.
On Harvards politically correct campus, this upset people, and Mark was soon hauled infront of Harvards disciplinary board for students. According to a November 19, 2003Harvard Crimson article, he was charged with breaching security, violating copyrights,and violating individual privacy. Happily for Mark, the article reports that he wasntexpelled.The second reason everyone at Harvard knew about Facemash and Mark Zuckerberg wasthat Facemash had been an instant hit. The same Harvard Crimson story reports that aftertwo weeks, "the site had been visited by 450 people, who voted at least 22,000 times."That means the average visitor voted 48 times. It was for this ability tobuild a wildly popular site that Victor Gao first recommended Mark to Cameron, Tyler,and Divya. Sold on Mark, the Harvard Connection trio reached out to him. Mark agreedto meet.They first met in an early evening in late November in the dining hall of HarvardColleges Kirkland House. Cameron, Tyler, and Divya brought up their idea for HarvardConnection, and described their plans to A) build the site for Harvard students only, byrequiring new users to register with Harvard.edu email addresses, and B) expand HarvardConnection beyond Harvard to schools around the country. Mark reportedly showedenthusiastic interest in the project.Later that night, Mark wrote an email to the Winklevoss brothers and Divya: "I read overall the stuff you sent and it seems like it shouldnt take too long to implement, so we cantalk about that after I get all the basic functionality up tomorrow night."The next day, on December 1, Mark sent another email to the HarvardConnections team.Part of it read, "I put together one of the two registration pages so I have everythingworking on my system now. Ill keep you posted as I patch stuff up and it starts tobecome completely functional."
These two emails sounded like the words of someone who was eager to be a part of theteam and working away on the project. A few days later, however, Marks emails to theHarvardConnection team started to change in tone. Specifically, they went fromsomeone who seemed to be hard at work building the product to someone who was sobusy with schoolwork that he had no time to do any coding at all.December 4: "Sorry I was unreachable tonight. I just got about three of your missed calls.I was working on a problem set."December 10: "The week has been pretty busy thus far, so I havent gotten a chance to domuch work on the site or even think about it really, so I think its probably best topostpone meeting until we have more to discuss. Im also really busy tomorrow so I dontthink Id be able to meet then anyway."A week later: "Sorry I have not been reachable for the past few days. Ive basically beenin the lab the whole time working on a cs problem set which I"m still not finished with."Finally, on January 8:Sorry its taken a while for me to get back to you. Im completely swamped with workthis week. I have three programming projects and a final paper due by Monday, as well asa couple of problem sets due Friday. Ill be available to discuss the site again startingTuesday.I"m still a little skeptical that we have enough functionality in the site to really draw theattention and gain the critical mass necessary to get a site like this to run…Anyhow, welltalk about it once I get everything else done.So what happened to change Marks tune about HarvardConnection? Was he so swampedwith work that he was unable to finish the project? Or, as the HarvardConnectionfounders have alleged, was he stalling the development of HarvardConnection so that hecould build a competing site and launch it first?Our investigation suggests the latter.As a part of the lawsuit against Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, the above emails fromMark have been public for years. What has never been revealed publicly is what Markwas telling his friends, parents, and closest confidants at the same time.Lets start with a December 7th (IM) exchange Mark Zuckerberg had with his Harvardclassmate and Facebook cofounder, Eduardo Saverin.Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-facebook-was-founded-2010-3#we-can-talk-about-that-after-i-get-all-the-basic-functionality-up-tomorrow-night-1#ixzz1W1LPINqJ
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