For the first time, Facebook released a trove of emails that were sent between its CEO Mark Zuckerberg and entrepreneur Paul Ceglia.
Ceglia sued Facebook and its founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg in New York state court, claiming that an April 2003 agreement entitles him to 50% of Zuckerberg’s ownership.
Ceglia filed a lawsuit in 2010 claiming that a contract between him and Zuckerberg showed he invested $1,000 in what would eventually become Facebook. (The two had met on Craigslist in 2003 and Ceglia commissioned Zuckerberg to work on his company, In that suit Ceglia attached many emails he alleged he had exchanged with Zuckerberg that purport to show that he is entitled to a stake in the social network.
Facebook last year claimed the contract was an “outright fabrication” and that the emails were forged.
Now, in a motion to dismiss Ceglia’s lawsuit Monday, the social network’s lawyers obtained emails that Zuckerberg and Ceglia allegedly exchanged in 2004 from the Harvard University server, when Zuckerberg was still a Harvard student. According to those emails that Facebook released Monday, none of the emails in Ceglia’s complaint showed up in that search.
Instead, those emails from Zuckerberg’s time at Harvard show him angry at Ceglia for receiving only $9,000 out of a total of $19,500 that was owed to him for work he did on a project called StreetFax.
In an email from January 25, 2004, just a week and a half before he launched Facebook, Zuckerberg told Ceglia’s partner that he will no longer make their requested changes to the StreetFax site because “there are many other things I’d like to, and have started to, work on. I am at a school surrounded by some of the smartest people in the world, cultivating ideas and constantly coming up with great projects to work on. … My time is valuable, and seems better spent on other things that I know, or at least can reasonably expect, will produce some sort of gratification in the near future.”
Ceglia’s lawyer, Sandford Dumain of the law firm Milberg LLP, alleged in an interview on Sunday that Zuckerberg deleted the emails produced by Ceglia to cover his tracks. Dumain wasn’t immediately available to comment Monday on Facebook’s motion to dismiss the suit.
The emails in Ceglia’s complaint document a tense relationship between himself and Zuckerberg. In those emails, Zuckerberg is constantly late with his work and breaking the terms of their contract, which states that the longer Zuckerberg takes to complete the site, the more of a stake Ceglia will own in the site.
Ceglia’s original claim – and what it says in the contract and emails he produced – was for an 84% stake of Facebook. He later amended his claim and said he was only seeking 50% of Zuckerberg’s stake.
The emails produced by Ceglia were not in native email format, but rather in Microsoft Word, according to Facebook’s motion. Dumain said Sunday it was Ceglia’s practice at the time to copy and paste his emails into a Word document, since the email program he had would automatically delete old emails.
Facebook’s attorneys, however, said the fact that the emails don’t exist in their native form are evidence of “obvious fraud,” according to their motion on Monday. “Ceglia simply typed text into a Word document and declared it was the text of emails with Zuckerberg,” the motion states.
Facebook’s dismissal motion includes the testimony of forensic experts, who testified that Ceglia reset the clock on his computer so it seemed like the documents were created in 2003 and 2004. But in some instances, Ceglia allegedly botched those attempts and made it look as if in October 2003 he had last accessed emails written in July 2004. The dateline on some of the emails, according to Facebook’s motion, also refers to Eastern Daylight Time when Eastern Standard Time was in effect. There’s no place from within the continental United States from which those emails could have been sent with those time stamps on those dates, according to Facebook’s motion.
In one of the emails Ceglia produced, he congratulates Zuckerberg on Facebook’s launch. “The site looks great,” he writes at 10:30 a.m. on February 4, 2004.
“This exchange is a historical impossibility,” said the motion. Facebook didn’t go live until that afternoon, according to the motion.
It looks to me that Ceglia bit off more than he can chew and now he will have to pay the piper.. Thanks to Shayndi Raice and the Wall Street Journal, and
Thanks for “listening”
The Neu Facebook