The NY Times appears to have just come across the now ancient claims that Mark Zuckerberg got the idea for Facebook from another Harvard classmate
who started a system called houseSYSTEM that had a Facebook-like featureset. The guy behind houseSYSTEM, Aaron Greenspan, has been pushing that story for years. Then, of course, there's the more high profile claims (and silly lawsuit) from the founders of a company called ConnectU, which claims that Zuckerberg stole the idea from Facebook from them. All of these stories (and lawsuits) miss the point. It doesn't matter whose idea it was originally. The concept of an online facebook or a social network wasn't new at the time anyway. Friendster had launched long before any of these guys were thinking up the idea (and there were social networks like Ryze and SixDegrees before that anyway). The point isn't who came up with the idea -- but who could take that idea and actually build it into something successful that people wanted to use. And, for whatever reason, it was Mark Zuckerberg who was able to do that (with the help of plenty of other folks). The idea, itself, is somewhat meaningless if there's no execution behind it. There's no reason to worry about who came up with this idea or that idea when all we need to do is look at who made the idea work.