Zuckerberg Visits China As Facebook Releases Harvard Emails
Holiday visit while Facebook is active on several fronts
Faceobook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been seen visiting China, while Facebook prepares for an IPO, and fends off a lawsuit from someone who claims to own half of the company.
Zuckerberg visited an Apple store and was seen shopping in central Shanghai with his Chinese fiance Priscilla Chang, according to microblog Sina Weibo. Photos showed the couple looking relaxed, but the possibility that there may be business afoot was stirred by the simultaneous presence of Apple CEO Tim Cook in China. Other sites reported rumours the two men shared an executive jet during the visit.
Back in the United States, while preparing for a share offer that would value Facebook at around $100 billion Facebook made a bid to defuse software developer Paul Ceglia’s claim to own half that sum, by releasing emails from Zuckerberg’s student days at Harvard University, which it says disproves Ceglia’s evidence.
The lawsuit began in April 2011. Facebook had just fended off one legal challenge after a federal court of appeals panel ruled that twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss could not renege on a $65 million (£40m) settlement they made with Zuckerberg in 2008 and litigate for more money.
Who Owns Facebook?
But this success was marred when it emerged that Facebook was facing another lawsuit, from New York software developer Paul Ceglia, who claimed to have rights to 50 percent of Zuckerberg’s equity in Facebook.
At the time Ceglia published email evidence showing emails between himself and Zuckerberg from the early years of the social networking site. The emails do show a professional relationship between the two men.
Essentially Ceglia argued that Facebook was partly his idea and that Zuckberberg signed a contract with him to give him 50 percent ownership after Ceglia made a total investment of $2,000 (£1,228) in the early Facebook project. Prior to that Ceglia made a payment of $1,000 (£614) to Mark Zuckberberg, for doing coding work on Ceglia’s Streetfax.com project.
Facebook has reportedly called Ceglia “a scam artist” and is currently trying to dismiss Ceglia’s lawsuit.
To this end Facebook’s lawyers have obtained and published emails that Zuckerberg and Ceglia allegedly exchanged in 2004 from the Harvard University server, when Zuckerberg was still a Harvard student.
According to those emails that Facebook released Monday, none of the emails in Ceglia’s complaint showed up in that search, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Instead, the emails reportedly show Zuckerberg’s anger at Ceglia for receiving only $9,000 out of a total of $19,500 that was owed to him for work he did on the StreetFax project.
In one email from 25 January, 2004, just a week and a half before he launched Facebook, Zuckerberg told Ceglia’s partner that he will no longer make their requested changes to the StreetFax site because “there are many other things I’d like to, and have started to, work on. I am at a school surrounded by some of the smartest people in the world, cultivating ideas and constantly coming up with great projects to work on. … My time is valuable, and seems better spent on other things that I know, or at least can reasonably expect, will produce some sort of gratification in the near future.”
Ceglia’s alleged contract between him and Zuckerberg, calls for Ceglia to purchase a 50 percent interest in a project that Zuckerberg was already working on – an online yearbook for Harvard students known as “The Face Book”. There are also penalties for late completion that increased this ownership percentage over time. Indeed, Ceglia’s original claim was for an 84 percent stake of Facebook. Ceglia later amended his claim and said he was only seeking 50 percent of Zuckerberg’s stake.
It should be noted that the emails produced by Ceglia were not in native email format, but rather were stored in Microsoft Word. Ceglia said he copied and pasted his emails into a Word document, because his email system would automatically delete old emails.
Facebook’s attorneys, however, said on Monday that the fact that the emails don’t exist in their native form are evidence of “obvious fraud,” according to the WSJ report. “Ceglia simply typed text into a Word document and declared it was the text of emails with Zuckerberg,” the motion states.
Facebook is of course reading itself for an IPO which could value the company at around $100 billion (£64bn).
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