A New Yorker named Paul Ceglia says he paid two installments of $1,000 for 50% of Facebook back in 2003, months before Mark Zuckerberg launched the site in February 2004.
Ceglia’s shocking allegations have been out there for a while, but yesterday, he re-filed a lawsuit with law firm DLA Piper.
We’re paying attention because the new suit includes lots of emails that are allegedly between Ceglia and Zuckerberg.
We’ve read through them and our extensive reporting on the history of Facebook. And we’ve come up with timeline of facts and allegations.
- Allegation: In the Spring of 2003, Paul Ceglia puts an ad on Craisglist looking for someone to do contract development work for an idea of his called “StreetFax.” Zuckerberg answers it. According to the lawsuit, Zuckerberg tells Ceglia about another project Zuckerberg wants to develop, with a working title of “the face book.”
- Allegation: On April 28, 2003, Zuckerberg signs a contract agreeing to build StreetFax.com and “The Face Book.” Ceglia agrees to pay Zuckerberg $1,000 for each project. According to the contract, Ceglia will own 50% of “the Face Book.”
- Fact: Fall 2003, Zuckerberg tells a confidant in an instant message that he built something called StreetFax.com [for Paul Ceglia] and was paid to do it.
- Fact: In mid to late November, Zuckerberg meets with the Winklevoss brothers and Divvya Narendra in Kirkland House to discuss a project.
- Allegation: On November 22, Mark tells Ceglia in an email he talked to “a couple of upperclassmen that are planning to launch a site very similar to ours.” He says “I’ve stalled them for the time being.” He asks Ceglia for more money.
- Fact: In a December 7, 2003 instant message to Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg shares a link to the Winklevosses site, and says: “They made a mistake haha. They asked me to make it for them. So I’m like delaying.”
- Fact: Sometime between November and January, Zuckerberg tells his friend Adam D’Angelo that Eduardo Saverin “wants to sponsor” the Facebook project.
- Allegation: On January 1, Zuckerberg emailed Ceglia asking him for another $1,000, and asked Ceglia to split the ownership of the Facebook project 50/50.
- Fact: On January 8, Zuckerberg tells a friend that his friend Eduardo Saverin is paying for his servers (which would presumably preclude the need for more money from Ceglia).
- Fact: On January 14, Zuck tells his girlfriend he’s “got a friend to pay for my servers and stuff so I can get whatever equipment I need.”
- Fact: In February 2004, Facebook ownership is split amongst three Harvard students. Initially, Zuckerberg gets 65%, Saverin 30%, Dustin Moskovitz, 5%.
- Fact: On February 10, Cameron Winklevoss sends Mark a letter accusing him of breaching their agreement and stealing their idea.
- Allegation: In April, Zuckerberg tells Ceglia that Facebook isn’t working out and that he might shut it down.
- Fact: On June 10, 2004, a Harvard commencement speaker mentions the amazing popularity of thefacebook.com.
- Fact: In the summer of 2004, Zuckerberg moved to Palo Alto to work on Facebook full time and soon received a $500,000 investment from Peter Thiel.
- Fact: On July 1, 2004, law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle respond to claims from the WInklevosses on Zuckerberg’s behalf.
- Allegation: On July 22, Zuckerberg, in a personal email, offers to pay Ceglia back his $2,000 investment. Zuckerberg tells him that Facebook isn’t working out.
- Fact: On July 29th, Zuckerberg incorporated Facebook, Inc. in the state of Delaware. The company included a re-organised ownership structure that radically reduced Eduardo Saverin’s ownership stake. Saverin later sued over this and won a major settlement. (Saverin’s stake in Facebook is now worth more than $2 billion).
So, do Ceglia’s claims match up with the reality we’ve reported?
Yes, the timelines are approximately consistent. So we can’t dismiss Ceglia’s claims based on a conflict in the timeline.