A New York man who claims he struck a deal with Mark Zuckerberg in 2003 that entitles him to half of Facebook Inc. has included in a new court filing emails he said he exchanged with the Facebook founder.
In his federal court complaint, Paul Ceglia of Wellsville said the emails show, in part, how Zuckerberg tried to get him to abandon his interest in Facebook by souring their business relationship in 2004, while at the same time downplaying the popularity of the site following its launch at Harvard University, where Zuckerberg was a student.
Zuckerberg is accused in the complaint of breaching his contract with Ceglia by incorporating the website first known as thefacebook.com without telling him.
Ceglia seeks a 50 percent share of the company, which has more than 500 million users worldwide. Forbes magazine last month estimated Zuckerberg's net worth at $13.5 billion.
The amended lawsuit referenced a Nov. 22, 2003, e-mail purportedly from Zuckerberg:
"I have recently met with a couple of upperclassmen here at Harvard that are planning to launch a site very similar to ours. If we don't make a move soon, I think we will lose the advantage we would have if we release before them. I've stalled them for the time being."
The suit claims another e-mail, purportedly from Zuckerberg, was dated two days before the original "thefacebook.com" site launched on Feb. 4, 2004 - more than a month later than specified in the contract:
"According to our contract I owe you over 30 percent more of the business in late penalties which would give you over 80 percent of the company. First I want to say that I think that is completely unfair because I did so much extra work for you on your site that caused those delays in the first place and second I don't even think it is legal to charge such a huge penalty. Mostly though I just won't even bother putting the site live if you are going to insist on such a large percentage. I'd like to suggest that you drop the penalty completely and that we officially return to 50/50 ownership."
After that, the suit claims Zuckerberg intentionally tried "to sour their business relationship in order to convince Ceglia to abandon it."
Ceglia claims that in an April 6, 2004, e-mail, Zuckerberg offered to pay back the $2,000, that he was too busy to work on the site and that "no one wants to pay for it, so I am thinking of just taking the server down. ... At this point I won't even really be able to work on the facebook until Summer."
Ceglia said he responded angrily.
"You've got some nerve talking about me owing you with the CRIMINAL stunts you've pulled (sic) Reasonable people go to court to resolve their differences they don't go stealing things dude, you stole code, not once, not twice but THREE TIMES! Do you have any idea the damage you've done??? Grow up, take a f- ethics class, choke yourself with that silver spoon of yours."