When ConnectU's Founders Won, They Still Lost

Owen Thomas · 02/15/09 04:00PM

Lawyers for ConnectU are bragging about winning a $65 million settlement for their clients from Facebook. But what did Divya Narendra and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss really get from Mark Zuckerberg? Almost nothing.

Facebook Settlement Revealed by Incompetent Lawyers

Owen Thomas · 02/10/09 05:22PM

How much did it cost to put a lingering dispute over the creation of Facebook to rest? $65 million, according to the lawyers who hammered out the — oops — confidential settlement with rival ConnectU.

Guy who sued Facebook joins Facebook

Nicholas Carlson · 09/23/08 07:00PM

Harvard alum Divya Narendra is on Facebook, one of his classmates noticed today. The social network started at that Ivy League school, so his joining it wouldn't be notable — except Narendra started ConnectU, the social network from which Narendra and his cofounders say fellow Harvard man Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook. The other two founders are Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who rowed in the Beijing Olympics and are also very tall. Narendra didn't take advantage of Facebook's excellent privacy features and has his profile exposed to the entire New York network. Narendra has been less vocal than the Winklevosses about ConnectU's continuing fight with Facebook, but according to his Facebook wall, which we've pasted below, Narendra's friends still can't believe he joined the site. Also below: Guess which company Narendra did not include in the "Education and Work" section of his profile:

As ConnectU founders prepare for Olympic semis, Facebook takes over their company

Nicholas Carlson · 08/12/08 10:00AM

ConnectU cofounders and Olympic rowers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss beat out Croatia to win their second heat yesterday, advancing to Wednesday's semifinals. Meanwhile, back on the home front, U.S. District Judge James Ware said Monday that ConnectU has until Tuesday to transfer all its stock to Facebook and comply with a settlement to the ConnectU founders' suit alleging that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea.The news is hardly bad news for the Winklevoss brothers and ConnectU's third cofounder, Divya Narendra. Court papers say the three will get "millions" of dollars in cash as well as stock in a startup too popular with mainstream America's millennial generation to fail. (The Winklevosses were fighting the settlement after they discovered that the Facebook common stock they would receive was worth less than they supposed.) Plus, there's still that shot at gold.

Transcripts confirm: ConnectU founders better rowers than accountants

Nicholas Carlson · 07/03/08 10:20AM

Released court transcripts from the last skirmish in the ConnectU-Facebook legal battle — in which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was charged with nicking the code for his site from a rival social network — reveal why ConnectU founders Divya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler WInklevoss returned to the fight this summer after settling with Facebook in February. It seems they thought their original lawyers didn't make as much from the deal as the ConnectU founders thought they would. In the February settlement, ConnectU sold itself for Facebook shares which the founders figured would have a value similar to those bought by Microsoft, which paid $240 million for 1.6 percent of Facebook, valuing the company at a notional $15 billion. The transcripts show that while Microsoft bought preferred stock in the company, ConnectU's founders were awarded common shares. That kind isn't worth nearly as much. In fact, given the problems Facebook shareholders have had selling their private shares, the settlement might not be enough to pay ConnectU's legal bills. The founders' first team of lawyers have asked the Judge not to award ConnectU its settlement funds until its legal bills are paid first.

CNET legal objection might reveal Mark Zuckerberg's private IM transcripts

Jackson West · 07/01/08 04:40PM

The legal case opened by ConnectU founders Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is closed, but the courtroom drama continues. CNET has filed an objection to San Jose District Court Judge James Ware's decision to close the courtroom and put all the evidence under seal. What's in those documents that might be so interesting? Facebook's internal valuations, for starters. But most intriguing are the purported instant message conversations that the plaintiffs were led to believe provided proof that Zuckerberg is a little thief. (Photo by AP)

Facebook convinces judge it isn't worth $15 billion

Nicholas Carlson · 06/27/08 10:20AM

When Facbook and the ConnectU founders who say Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole their code settled in February, ConnectU founders Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra figured they were getting stock in a company worth $15 billion. Not so, according to Facebook laywers and the federal judge who ruled in their favor. From the Judge's ruling:

ConnectU's case against Facebook to remain closed

Nicholas Carlson · 06/26/08 10:00AM

Harvard classmates and ConnectU founders Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra signed a settlement with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in February, and despite what the ConnectU founders say is relevant new evidence, a federal judge ruled yesterday that the settlement will stick. "The court finds that the agreement is enforceable and orders its enforcement," the order said. We prefer how the last judge ruling on the case put it, describing the ConnectU founders suddenly renewed interest in revisiting the settlement with new lawyers as little more than "buyer's remorse."

ConnectU founders hire new lawyers to fight Facebook

Nicholas Carlson · 06/16/08 10:00AM

ConnectU founders Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra have hired new lawyers to argue their suddenly renewed case that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for his site. The parties agreed to a settlement in February, but last week ConnectU cited new evidence and asked a judge to let it out of the deal. Now, the New York Times reports one of ConnectU's new lawyers is stock fraud expert Sean F. O’Shea of O’Shea Partners in New York. Speculates the Times's Brad Stone:

Last ruling in ConnectU vs. Facebook went against Mark Zuckerberg

Nicholas Carlson · 04/08/08 05:20PM

A judge last summer called the ConnectU founders' claims that Mark Zuckerberg had used code written while employed by them to create Facebook "tissue thin." Yesterday, in the final ruling before Facebook's lawyers decided to settle, a higher court disagreed and rejected Facebook's call for a dismissal. According to the appeals court ruling, Facebook's defense arguments were "either unavailing, or inadequately developed, or both. We reject them out of hand and, for the reasons elucidated above, we reverse the order of dismissal." Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, unwilling to go on with the case, chose to settle.

Zuckerberg agrees to pay off ConnectU founders

Nicholas Carlson · 04/07/08 04:00PM

Facebook is preparing to settle with ConnectU founders Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra. The three allegedthat in 2003, Facebook founder and then-fellow Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg turned code he wrote for ConnectU into Facebook. All motions in the case have been terminated, the New York Times reports — a usual prelude to a settlement. In July 2007, a judge characterized the ConnectU founder's case as tissue-thin, remarking that dormroom chatter does not equate to a contract. Still, the case didn't seem to be going away. Already, inadvertently released court filings proved embarrassing to Zuckerberg, and a trial would likely have revealed worse. What the Times didn't get: the terms of the settlement.

Founders Club, MC Hammer take over SNL studios

Nicholas Carlson · 11/07/07 01:00PM

Digital media types here in New York are always looking for a reason to celebrate their own achievements. A couple of months ago, a few of them began calling themselves the Founders Club and decided to start holding mixers around town. Last night, NBC hosted the latest in the series on the set of Saturday Night Live. Who showed? Mostly wantrepreneurs looking for a VC teat to suckle, of course. But I also ran into Digg CEO Jay Adelson, pictured above; a definitely not-pictured angel Ron Conway, who dodged my camera; a Facebook "founder"; and MC Hammer.

ConnectU gets its day in court

Owen Thomas · 07/25/07 10:32AM

"Mo money, mo problems," says a Facebook insider. The wisdom of the late Biggie Smalls explains, in a nutshell, why Facebook has found itself in court. A judge in Boston is considering at a hearing today whether to let a lawsuit filed by the founders of ConnectU — the Dickensian-named twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra — against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his company proceed. This lawsuit, of course, only exists because of Facebook's supposed success, and the inflated valuations bandied about by board members tired of fending off buyout offers. I'll be covering this story throughout the day, but if you need to catch up, here's the full coverage.

A brief history of Mark Zuckerberg's legal woes

Owen Thomas · 07/20/07 03:43PM

Earlier this week, CNBC asked me to come on the air to discuss Facebook's legal woes. Click to viewI've spent days immersed in legal filings, and the clip, above, just scratches the surface of what I've learned. Next week comes a critical moment for Facebook, the red-hot social network that has captured Silicon Valley's imagination, and its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. After the jump, I explain why Zuckerberg will face a moment of reckoning next Wednesday, July 25, and detail a timeline of Facebook's legal battles.

Tyler Winklevoss rows against the Facebook tide

Owen Thomas · 07/17/07 11:31PM

Portfolio.com has interviewed Tyler Winklevoss, one of the Harvard graduates who has charged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with stealing the idea behind the hot social network. Winklevoss, who founded HarvardConnection, a college-networking site now known as ConnectU, appears to be a very angry, bitter young man. We love those types! Here's what Winklevoss had to say to Portfolio about Zuckerberg's actions: "Premeditated, well thought out, duplicitous and conniving." Winklevoss adds, "He messed with the wrong guys." Of course, Winklevoss is more than a bit duplicitous himself in the interview.

Facebook's wannabe founders

Owen Thomas · 07/16/07 07:42PM

As Facebook's theoretical value soars, the interest of its hangers-ons grows practical indeed. I think that's why Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra are pursuing their lawsuit against sandal-sporting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with such tireless vigor. But the three Harvard school chums, who say they hired Zuckerberg to work on their competing ConnectU site before he launched what became Facebook, are far from the only ones pressing a claim to have been present at Facebook's creation. (For the record, long-suffering Facebook PR chief Brandee Barker says the company's official cofounders are Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskowitz.) After the jump, a gallery of everyone who's not an official founder — but who'd like to be.