Two down, one to go?
The Winklevoss brothers were vanquished in court Monday, but Facebook's troubles aren't yet over: The company faces a second suit in Paul Ceglia, who allegedly hired Mark Zuckerberg on Craigslist back in 2003. Ceglia claims that he invested $1,000 in Facebook at the time, which entitled him to 50 percent -- and now a whopping 84 percent --- of what is today one of the biggest players in tech.
Ceglia first filed suit against Facebook last year. He's just returned with a new law firm, and a collection of potentially damning emails with Zuckerberg to prove his case.
""I am really sorry I behaved as I did. Please give me your address and I will mail you back the $2,000 for your trouble, more if it will repair our business relationship," a July, 2004, email allegedly from Zuckerberg to Ceglia states.
This time, Facebook may have to take serious notice.
What's most intriguing in the refiled suit is not the high-powered firm but the dozens of emails Ceglia claims were exchanged between him and Mark Zuckerberg from July 2003 to July 2004, the year in which Facebook was created. If the emails prove real, Ceglia could actually have a case on his hand.
The first few emails seem to document their business arrangement. By April of 2004, the email chain appears to show the relationship between the pair spiraling downward and devolving. According to the complaint, Zuckerberg even claimed the site wasn’t doing well -- and he planned to shut it down.
"Paul, I have become too busy to deal with the site and no one wants to pay for it, so I am thinking of just taking the server down. My parents have a fund that I can tap into for my college expenses and I would just like to give you your two thousand dollars back and call it even on the rest of the money you owe me for the extra work. At this point I won’t even really be able to work on the facebook until Summer."
Ceglia took issue, according to the emails, telling Zuckerberg to “Grow up, take a f__king ethics class, choke yourself with that silver spoon of yours.”
Read the entire email exchange at the Wall Street Journal.
Facebook’s reaction has been strong and swift, adamantly denying the validity of the new evidence and pointing to Ceglia’s problems with the law and history of fraud.
“This is a fraudulent lawsuit brought by a convicted felon, and we look forward to defending it in court,” said Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Facebook. “From the outset we’ve said that this scam artist’s claims are ridiculous and this newest complaint is no better.”
That Facebook's ever-inflating valuation makes it a target for lawsuits is no surprise. Ceglia’s new law firm, DLA Piper, is a major international firm that specializes in technology companies -- and only picked up the case after “weeks” of due diligence, according to Business Insider. At this point, it’s unclear whether the emails are real, but Facebook has yet to successfully demonstrate that they are fraudulent.
Still, the question remains: Why did Ceglia wait so long to make a fuss? Hopefully, the answers will unfold as the court case develops.