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Did Mark Zuckerberg Steal Facebook? Tech’s Biggest Scandal

The question “Did Mark Zuckerberg steal Facebook?” is a widely discussed topic in the tech industry, and many people have an opinion on it. 

Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms that makes millions in annual profits, so its ownership is a big deal.

Mark Zuckerberg has made a name for himself through his company, Meta, but all his success stems from Facebook. So, was the giant that defined Zuckerberg’s legacy a stolen idea? Read on to get more details on the topic;

Did Mark Zuckerberg Steal Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, but he got the idea from some of his colleagues and classmates. The Winklevoss twins and Eduardo Saverin accused him of stealing their idea, which he used to create Facebook, so they sued for more shares of Facebook. 

Zuckerberg denied all the allegations and said Facebook was his idea, which led to a lengthy trial that ended in a financial settlement. None of the parties publicly admitted guild or recanted a statement, so there isn’t any definitive proof of what happened.

More Details on The Facebook Ownership Saga

The lawsuit and stories about Facebook’s ownership are some of the biggest scandals in tech, and it is not unique. 

There are many cases of people creating successful platforms, then teammates or employees coming forward and claiming the idea was theirs. 

Mark Zuckerberg has been accused of swiping his concept for Facebook from ConnectU.com, a company founded by a trio of classmates and clients who wanted to create a social platform for Harvard students.

After an extended court struggle that extended years, Facebook agreed to pay Zuckerberg’s ex-classmates $65 million in total.

It is undeniable that Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook. However, the concept originated with Divya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss, and Tyler Winklevoss. They were also developing a website that would function similarly to Facebook. 

In Hollywood’s version of the founding of Facebook, the Winklevoss twins were portrayed as villains, which isn’t entirely true.

The twins are portrayed as far more evil in The Social Network than they were in reality. Narendra used to be the Winklevoss twins’ roommate, and the three had become friends while studying at Harvard.

The Winklevoss twins hailed from an affluent household and were prominent Ivy League athletes. This made them the complete opposite of the rebellious and nerdy Mark Zuckerberg, whose personality was important in his ability to build Facebook in the first place.

When Narendra and the Winklevoss twins went to court against Zuckerberg, Facebook’s legal team claimed they didn’t have a strong enough idea to develop an entire website. Facebook did everything it could to keep what happened a secret.

When the legal team for the ConnectU.com organization chose to celebrate their victory, Facebook had no recourse. 

They went public with the news that they had obtained a $65 million settlement with the social media mogul.

The Winklevoss twins and Narendra quickly shot the law firm down, hoping to keep what happened quiet. 

Despite this, the story went viral, and everyone had their take on it. The movie about Facebook would forever stain their names as villains in Zuckerberg’s success.

The Origin of Facebook

Every unique product needs a good origin story with villains and huddles to its success. Facebook is one of the best products online, and it has quite an origin story to tell. The story started in the early 2000s when the internet was rapidly growing.

In 2003, as a second-year Harvard student, Zuckerberg created the software for the Facemash website. 

He put his computer science abilities to dubious use by breaking into Harvard’s security network and copying the student ID photos used by the dormitories. 

He then used to create his new website. Visitors to Zuckerberg’s website could compare two student images to evaluate who looked “hot” and who was “not.” 

Facemash launched on October 28, 2003, and stopped a few days later after being shut down by Harvard administrators. 

In the aftermath, Zuckerberg faced severe allegations of breach of security, infringement on intellectual property, and invasion of personal privacy. 

Even though he risked expulsion from Harvard due to his activities, all accusations against him were finally withdrawn. On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg created TheFacebook, a new website. 

He named the site after university student directories that were distributed to enable people to get to know each other better. 

Six days later, he was accused of stealing the concepts for an upcoming social networking website named HarvardConnection by Harvard juniors Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra. 

The claimants later launched a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, but the case was resolved out of court.

Initially, membership to the website was limited to Harvard students. Over time, Zuckerberg sought the assistance of a few of his peers to help expand the website. 

Eduardo Saverin, for example, handled commercial operations, whereas Dustin Moskovitz was hired as a coder. 

The site’s visual artist was Andrew McCollum, and Chris Hughes became the official spokesperson. The team worked to extend the portal to include more universities and schools.

Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and an angel investor, became the company’s president in 2004. After obtaining the domain name facebook.com for two hundred thousand dollars in 2005, the firm changed the site’s name from TheFacebook to just Facebook.

The following year, Accel Partners invested $12.7 million in the company, allowing it to create a version of the network for high school kids. Facebook would grow to other associations, such as corporate employees. 

In September 2006, Facebook announced that anybody above 13 with a verified email address could join. According to a survey by the analytics site Compete.com, it had become the world’s most popular social networking service by 2009.

Who Are The Winklevoss Twins? 

‍The Winklevoss twins played a significant role in the lawsuit against Facebook, but most people might not know who they are. Today, they are mostly famous because of their role in Bitcoin. 

We will look at how these brothers came from being considered a mere bleep on Facebook to becoming the most prominent and wealthiest personalities in the crypto community.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, also known as Winklevii, are two of the most renowned players in the cryptocurrency sector. 

They excel at managing, creating, and investing in revolutionary blockchain firms. The identical twins’ family office, Winklevoss Capital, has invested in over 25 digital asset firms. 

Tyler Winklevoss

Tyler Howard Winklevoss is a Bitcoin investor from the US, the founder of Winklevoss Capital Management, the CEO and founder of Gemini, and an Olympic rower. 

In 2000, he majored in Economics at Harvard, where he later co-founded HarvardConnection (now called ConnectU), an institution in Facebook’s history. 

Tyler earned his MBA from the University of Oxford in 2010 and co-founded Winklevoss Capital with Cameron. Tyler Winklevoss’ net worth is estimated to be $3 billion by Forbes.

Cameron Winklevoss

Cameron Howard Winklevoss is the co-founder and president of Gemini, an entrepreneur and Olympic rower. 

In addition to enrolling in the same postgraduate and undergraduate degrees as his brother, the twins competed in pair rowing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, coming sixth in the final. 

According to Forbes, the couple still owns over 70,000 Bitcoins and other digital assets as part of their net worth.

What Winklevoss Twins Did After Settlement

Following their public dispute with Facebook and Mark in 2008, the brothers went on to compete for the United States in the rowing competition at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. They had been rowing competitively since the age of 15.

Tyler and Cameron decided to invest their compensation money in Silicon Valley software businesses after earning their MBAs at the University of Oxford’s Sad Business School. As a result, they founded Winklevoss Capital, a venture capital firm. 

However, it wasn’t long before the brothers realized the harsh reality: their famous Facebook feud with Zuckerberg had left a permanent scar on their names. After multiple failed attempts to invest in tech businesses, it became evident that Silicon Valley had blacklisted them.

The Winklevoss brothers finally succeeded with their investment plans in 2012, although in an unstable technology sector. 

While on vacation in Ibiza, the brothers were given the idea of Bitcoin, which was little more than a joke in the traditional financial industry. 

Despite the danger, Tyler and Cameron purchased $11 million in Bitcoin at $8 per coin, and things did not go as planned initially. The pair then put $1.5 million into BitInstant, a website that lets consumers buy Bitcoin with US dollars. 

Unfortunately, some of Silk Road’s darknet marketplace purchases were determined to be tied to illicit money laundering activities by drug dealers. 

As a result, officials shut down the website in 2013, and its CEO, Charlie Shrem, was sentenced to one year in prison. 

This experience showed the Winklevoss brothers that they needed to be hands-on to promote a safe and regulated crypto investing method. This investment would eventually pay off and make them billions, which they used in other businesses. 

Conclusion

So, did Mark Zuckerberg steal Facebook? This is a mystery that only Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins have the answer to since there has never been any official proof to support either one. 

The case went to court, and even then, Facebook paid a settlement, but Zuckerberg never admitted to having stolen the idea. Granted, ConnectU and Facebook had many similarities, but most were ideas that made sense then, so anyone could have come up with them.