In a twist of Internet fate, Facebook creator and owner Mark Zuckerberg finds himself as defendant in a lawsuit over the Facebook's majority ownership. Paul Ceglia claims that he entered into a contract, signed by both himself and Zuckerberg, that sold 50 percent of facebook.com to Ceglia for $1,000. Ceglia further claims that Zuckerberg promised him one percent more per day until the site was completed. Ceglia filed his claims with the Allegany County Supreme Court of New York. He claims to own 84 percent of Facebook per the contract.
I wonder if Ceglia would be so interested in the lawsuit or his claim if Facebook had failed? I also wonder if Ceglia updated his Facebook page with this claim?
Why didn't Ceglia come forward before now? Facebook as operated online since 2004. Did Ceglia just run across the "contract" while rifling through some old papers or did the contract skip his mind until now?
The relief sought in the suit is:
Declaratory judgement for monetary damages and 84% ownership.
So, what would Zuckerberg be left with? He is the "face" of Facebook. He's the guy who created it, nurtured it and grew it into something. Where was Ceglia when all this growth was going on? Why didn't he want his 84% then? If Zuckerberg had been really smart, he would have sold out when he was offered $1 billion and retired at a very young age.
In response, Zuckerberg's attorneys have filed a motion to dissolve the restraining order posed by Ceglia as part of his claims.
If Ceglia has a true claim, it will be interesting to see what the court does. It will also be interesting to see if the agreement between Zuckerberg and Ceglia, if it exists, will be upheld. It might be found that Ceglia coerced a young and naive Zuckerberg into forfeiting his majority claim on the company early on.
Ceglia is certainly entitle to something for his original investment but I don't believe that he's entitled to 84% of the current Facebook fortune that he had no input into.
The judges will have to decide. Judges, plural, because whatever decision is handed down, you can be sure that this won't be over soon or without multiple appeals and years of expensive litigation.