Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss speciously claimed to have helped invent Facebook, winning tens of millions of dollars from the social network. Now they ludicrously want more, and the real inventor of Facebook probably has himself to blame.
"The chapter is not closed on this matter," one of the Olympic rowers told the BBC before an Oxford boat race. His brother added, "It's our duty to stand for principles."
Oh please. The Winklevoss twins are tremendously lucky to have already extracted from Facebook $20 million, plus stock their lawyers valued at $45 million, all in a 2008 legal settlement to make them finally shut up and go away and stop being ridiculous.
But they apparently refuse to do so. They are no doubt emboldened by ex-Valleywag Nicholas Carlson's recent publication of a bombshell IM transcript in which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admits to duping the pair, back when he was at Harvard working on his own social network. Zuckerberg's IM to a friend, as quoted in Business Insider, was fairly unambiguous:
Check this site out: www.harvardconnection.com and then go to harvardconnection.com/datehome.php. Someone is already trying to make a dating site. But they made a mistake haha. They asked me to make it for them. So I'm like delaying it so it won't be ready until after the facebook thing comes out.
HarvardConnection was the social networking site Zuckerberg told the Winklevoss twins he would code for them back at Harvard. In reality, he was coding up Facebook, as the twins were later enraged to discover. Ever since, the pair has been claiming they came up with the key ideas for Facebook, even though the site they asked Zuckerberg to code was focused on dating — and Facebook, quite crucially, eschewed overt romantic networking.
Their claim failed to persuade administrators at Harvard to pursue conduct charges against Zuckerberg. It failed to dissuade Facebook's investors. And it's not gained much traction in the court of public opinion. But thanks to the newly published instant message, as well as Aaron Sorkin's forthcoming movie about Facebook's origins, that could change.
And so the Winklevoss twins — their cash almost entirely claimed as contingency fees by their ex lawyers — want more than the $20 million plus stock they've already received as a reward for having had a social networking brain fart at approximately the same time everyone else was having a social networking brain fart, in 2004, two years after the launch of Friendster and just as MySpace was blooming. They totally thought of the idea of a social network in a college! And if you can't get north of $65 million for having thoughts like that, do you even want to live in America any more?
[Pic: The twins in England, Getty Images.]