ConnectU Wants Out Of Its Settlement With Facebook; Wants To Sue Again

from the oh-come-on dept

Earlier this year, we were disappointed to see Facebook agree to settle with ConnectU. ConnectU was another wannabe social network that Mark Zuckerberg worked for briefly before going off to found Facebook. The brothers behind ConnectU were unsuccessful in doing much with ConnectU, but it wasn’t because Zuckerberg “stole their idea.” It was because he executed much better. The “idea” itself was hardly novel at the time, as there were already a number of social networks out there. While it may have made economic sense in the short term for Facebook to settle with ConnectU (just to get the lawsuit hassle out of the way), that sort of settlement leads to more people claiming credit for something they have no real rights over.

Yet, if you thought the case was now over, you’d be wrong. Apparently the brothers behind ConnectU suddenly claim that they’ve come up with a “smoking gun” and they want to cancel the settlement and get back to the lawsuit. This is clearly a pure moneygrab at this point. Even if the brothers could prove that every bit of Facebook is based on code that Zuckerberg directly copied from ConnectU, it wouldn’t change the reality of the situation — which was that Zuckerberg created a service people wanted to use, and the ConnectU guys did not. They’re basically demanding money to pay for their own failure to execute well. In this society, we want to reward the winners in the marketplace, not the losers.

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Companies: connectu, facebook

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Comments on “ConnectU Wants Out Of Its Settlement With Facebook; Wants To Sue Again”

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Don (user link) says:

There are other issues...

While I agree that failure shouldn’t be rewarded, there are other issues. Should we not be able to trust our employees and contractors to work for us without taking the code that we paid for and starting their own companies with it? If they do that it is theft. I agree that Zuckerberg didn’t steal their idea, but, if their claim is true, he did steal their code. The settlement should probably be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, not in the millions or billions. But, there should be a settlement.

Anonymous Coward (user link) says:

Question of Ethic or Execution?

Stealing is stealing. Whether it was a minor steal, or a major steal is important. I definitely agree, the market should reward those who execute. But, we shouldn’t look up to people who cheat, steal, and are overall unethical.

I’m curious as to whether or not this theft actually took place. Sure, the owners of ConnectU want money, but that doesn’t concern me. An unethical CEO, is also one who is likely to sell my data to the lowest bidder, and do otherwise unethical things to its users as well when it makes sense. As a person who has a lot of good ideas, and a person who has had others claim credit for them, I can also understand the frustration of someone who gets bested by sitting down with a person who they thought would be their partner.

This world is loosing touch with what’s right and wrong, ethics aren’t really the same anymore. People only care if what they are doing is legal, and if it’s illegal, whether they would get caught. (I’m not trying to say I’m perfect either but I think the story should be told in full)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Question of Ethic or Execution?

I agree with you here. The idea is not whether Facebook was able to execute and make the company successful and ConnectU wasn’t. It’s whether the means by which the company had become successful was ethical or not. Some say that if someone can take advantage of something and make it better, good on them. I personally think that is a lowly way of getting through life. Some work their butts off to survive, while some who know cheap little tricks do near nothing and gain a lot. It is unethical. This is a situation that none of us commenting here really know the true answer to. Only Mark Z knows. Even if he COULD come up with the code for his own Facebook site, but still used code made by the original founders of ConnectU, part of the work had already been done for him. He could have easily copyrighted their ideas, only made them better for success. It is nontheless, unethical and wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Umm...

Yes, we do. They purchased the original DOS operating system from another company for $50K and modified it for themselves to, in turn, license to IBM. They didn’t steal anything. As well, they copied the windowing concept from Apple, who copied it from Xerox. Believe me, I am no Microsoft apologist, but their roots were legal. I am not stating, FTR, that Mark Z. stole anything either. We just don’t know that. If he copied a concept, well, good for him!

Jacob says:

Correct me if I'm wrong...

Wasn’t Mark their main programmer or something? So if he can do it for them.. maybe he can do it for himself? Facebook is so ahead of the ages code and design wise. They’ve done wonders for open source and are always expanding and pushing technology.. Mark couldn’t have stolen that from them. Who’s ever heard of ConnectU before this?

Nasch says:


Everyone’s talking about stealing and theft. Are these the same people who think downloading a song without paying is theft, or do you guys think it’s different for some reason when it’s software instead of music? I’m not saying it’s right or legal, I’m saying it’s not theft. When it happens (whether it happened in this case or not), it could be copyright infringement, and it could be breach of contract.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, it makes sense. ConnectU couldn’t execute on their strategy to gain marketshare and an audience to drive ad revenue. So they decide to sue the only company who could- FaceBook.

But a more serious question is this– How many companies have been able to leverage Web 2.0 concepts to create multiple revenue streams outside of “just” ad revenue? Outside of iTunes (Which arguably isn’t Web 2.0) Very few, I imagine.

Just a thought.

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