Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Fresh Start

In The New York Times New Year's Eve, there was a story by Miguel Helft that appeared to be a tale of sour grapes. There are these two brothers, see, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss with almost Central Casting appearance and background: affluent, polite, 6'5", rowed for the Harvard Varsity team, rowed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and are currently training for the 2012 London Olympics. Did I mention they're identical twins?

Anyway, they claim that they had the original idea for Facebook when they asked computer programmer and fellow Harvard colleague Mark Zuckerberg to help design a program for an idea called Harvard Connection, later renamed ConnectU. As Mr. Helft writes:

[The Winklevosses claim that] Mr. Zuckerberg delayed work on Harvard Connection, and when pressed for answers, stalled, according to the Winklevosses. In February 2004 he released The Facebook, which eventually became Facebook.

Facebook representatives say that the Winklevosses' idea was merely a dating site.

I don't see what these Winklevosses are upset about. In 2008 they walked away with a settlement of $20 million and $45 million in Facebook shares. Aren't these guys just after a piece of a growing, thriving business with an estimately log-on count of 750 million, with each person spending mucho eyeball time on the site?

They appear to be obsessed with Mr. Zuckerberg. They're feuding with their lawyers who negotiated the original settlement. I guess they're canny computer types, too. They've saved emails from 2004 as proof of ? [Not revealed in story.]

They recited arcane facts about the valuation of private companies and even quoted from the Securities Act of 1934, which they say Facebook violated when it drew up the settlement.

It is hard to estimate the worth of a privately held company like Facebook, but recent trades indicate it's valued at $50 billion, a bright golden target for all comers.

In exchanges that match buyers and sellers of the shares of privately held companies, FB shares have soared to more than $100 in recent trades after adjusting for stock splits.

Facebook has so far fended off the Winklevosses in every court smackdown. Next month the twins go in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. If a ruling is disputed in the Ninth Circuit, the parties involved can petition the U.S. Supreme Court. Unless, as the story says, they decide to give up.

As the old saying goes, success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.

Onward and upward!

No comments: