Twins speak out: Facebook-Zuckerberg suit
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss aim to 'shed light on truth'Twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss open up about their ongoing multi-million dollar lawsuit against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the New York Post.
The brothers attended Harvard with Zuckerberg. According to their side of the story (which will be chronicled in the much-anticipated The Social Network, out October 1), they and a fellow student Divya Narendra approached Zuckerberg to help code their social networking site, Harvard Connection.
Zuckerberg verbally agreed to finish Harvard Connection, but then delayed his project deadlines and eventually launched his own competing site, thefacebook.com. The Winklevoss twins sent him a cease and desist order, which he ignored, and then sued in 2004. They settled for a reported $65 million -- but the brothers are suing for more, claiming the company was grossly undervalued.
Tyler Winklevoss, who, like his brother, is a member of the Olympics rowing team, vows not to back down against Zuckerberg. "We're not just guys who walk away from a fight because someone beats their chest hard. We're never going to go away, and we're never going to stop until this situation has been rectified and the wrong has been righted."
As for criticism that they're "Zuckerberg's bitches" who couldn't have come up with the idea for Facebook, "A lot of people want to play armchair lawyer. If you can survive the blogosphere, you can survive anything."
Tyler explains that "a lot of people had difficulty" with the idea that he and his brother -- good-looking jocks who also hold MBAs from Oxford -- could have conceptualized a site like Facebook. "[People say], 'These guys are sportsmen. Zuckerberg should have the idea.' But they had trouble digesting and accepting, 'Well, maybe he didn't have the idea but he took it from these guys who are sportsmen, but who maybe also have good ideas.'
Tyler goes on, "What was done to us was a terrible thing. Everyone's talking about 'The Facebook,' and you're like, 'Wait, that was supposed to be us."
He and his brother eventually joined Facebook after the Olympics in 2008 -- shortly after their site, which morphed into ConnectU, failed because of "first mover advantage" and the "premeditated sandbagging of our site," says Tyler.
"We conceived of this whole idea to meet new people and to stay in touch with people, so it was sort of the ultimate irony if we couldn't use the idea that we said that we originated in the first place," he goes on.
Tyler says he won't stoop to Zuckerberg's level. "We're very proud of the way we've conducted ourselves. And we can go to bed at night. Our goal is to shed light on the truth. To get to the bottom of the situation so that everyone can be recognized and compensated for their contributions. At the end of the day, we have nothing to hide."
Facebook did not return a request for comment to the Post.