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.
The law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges included the amount of the Facebook settlement in a list of legal victories published in its January newsletter — despite having been fired last year by ConnectU's founders, who sued to have the settlement overturned.
The amount of the settlement, reportedly paid in cash and stock, had never previously been disclosed, and all parties agreed it would be kept confidential. When the Recorder, a San Francisco-based legal publication, noticed the disclosure, the firm's chairman, John Quinn, attempted to persuade a reporter not to publish the figure, citing the confidentiality agreeement.
As a Harvard student in 2003 and 2004, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did some programming work on ConnectU, a college-based social network, shortly before launching his own site, then known as Thefacebook.com, in February 2004. ConnectU's founders included Olympian-rower twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (shirtless, above), as well as Divya Narendra, whom everyone forgets because he's not a hunky, Kennedyesque Olympian rower with a twin brother. They contend that Zuckerberg took work he did for ConnectU and used it in launching what later became Facebook. Tyler Winklevoss called Zuckerberg's actions "premeditated, well thought out, duplicitous and conniving."
The dispute between Narendra and the Winklevosses and their former lawyers is currently in arbitration; the lawyers are seeking payment of $13 million, while ConnectU's founders want the whole agreement overturned, because of new information they discovered about Mark Zuckerberg's sordid college days.
Here's a hypothetical question: Let's assume Facebook had good legal counsel, and ConnectU's founders are right to be angry at their own lawyers. What do they know about Mark Zuckerberg? And how much is information really worth? It's safe to assume that figure is far more than $65 million.