This is not a good time to be Mark Zuckerberg. Well, it is always a pretty good time — the future billions, the millions of users, the hoodie that won’t quit. But with The Social Network about to hit theaters, there is a massive bottleneck of muck to be raked. In this week’s New York Magazine cover story, Mark Harris wrote about how Eduardo Saverin, Facebook’s first CFO, heavily influenced The Accidental Billionaires, the book by Ben Mezrich that Aaron Sorkin used create his “Rashomon-like” screenplay.
Now Silicon Alley Insider is touting newly uncovered IMs and e-mails from Zuckerberg, which have a few juicy tidbits that detail why and how Saverin got pushed out.
According to the new communications, Saverin apparently used Facebook as a free platform to advertise another project he was working on called Joboozle, which pissed off Zuckerberg and makes Saverin look a little slimy. The final straw may have been that Saverin wasn’t moving fast enough on Facebook after Zuckerberg decided to drop out of Harvard and pursue the business full-time. In an IM to another Facebook partner, Zuckerberg wrote: “I maintain that he fucked himself … He was supposed to set up the company, get funding, and make a business model. He failed at all three.”
The second revelation is the active role Mark Zuckerberg played in diluting Saverin’s stock in the company. From July 2004 to January 2005, in order to meet demands of potential investors, Facebook incorporated in Delaware, then acquired the old company, formed as an LLC. In that time, Saverin’s stock was diluted from 30 percent to 24 percent to less than 10 percent, with Facebook’s new COO Sean Parker and Silicon Valley bigwig Peter Thiel onboard as shareholders. Here’s an I.M. conversation between Parker and Zuckerberg:
Parker: Peter [Thiel] tried some dirty tricks. All that shit he does is like classic Moritz [Michael Moritz, from Sequoia Capital, who previously invested in Google] shit.
Zuckerberg: Haha really?
Parker: Only Moritz does it way better.
Zuckerberg: That’s weak.
Parker: I bet he learned that from Mike.
Zuckerberg: Well, now I learned it from him and I’ll do it to Eduardo.
Here’s another e-mail from Zuckerberg discussing the maneuver:
“Eduardo is refusing to co-operate at all…We basically now need to sign over our intellectual property to a new company and just take the lawsuit…I’m just going to cut him out and then settle with him. And he’ll get something I’m sure, but he deserves something…He has to sign stuff for investments and he’s lagging and I can’t take the lag.”
This confirms that Zuckerberg knew he’d face a lawsuit, which Saverin eventually settled for an undisclosed amount, but did it anyway.
The headline of the Silicon Alley article — “The Facebook Movie Is Act of Cold-Blooded Revenge — New, Unpublished IMs Tell The Real Story” — suggests that the new movie is an unwarranted hatchet job on Zuckerberg. But the I.M.s and e-mail seem to show that the movie pretty much gets things right, and may even be more generous to Zuckerberg than he deserves.
You know the Facebook founder is having a bad week when even people who seem to think they’re defending him end up making matters worse.