ConnectU founders get $65 million from Facebook?

A law publication managed to notice that the former lawyers for ConnectU boasted in a brochure that they once won a $65 million settlement against Facebook.

Talk about spilling the beans: A marketing brochure for law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, which represented would-be social network ConnectU in its much-publicized suit against Facebook, claimed that the final settlement netted the site's founders a handsome $65 million in Facebook stock and cash.

Oops.

A Law.com article dug up the brochure and its claim, and has posted a .pdf file on the Web. According to the same article, principals at the law firm now regret posting the results. Meanwhile, ConnectU remains in a fee dispute with Quinn Emanuel, a fact which came to light when the plaintiff changed its mind about the suit's eventual settlement last year.

ConnectU was founded by twins Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss, along with their classmate Divya Narendra, when all three were students at Harvard University. They hired Mark Zuckerberg, now the CEO of Facebook, as a programmer and eventually alleged that he swiped their code and business model to create the now-ubiquitous social network.

ConnectU vs. Facebook, which had dragged on since 2004, eventually settled in August right around when Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who are identical twins, were finishing in sixth place in a rowing event at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

It seems like a staggering amount, considering the casual terms of ConnectU's employment agreement with Zuckerberg had meant that it was very difficult for the Winklevosses and Narendra to prove that there had been a physical theft of code. So keep this in mind: Even if Facebook's valuation is nowhere near the $15 billion that it was valued at in the halcyon days of that $240 million Microsoft investment , $65 million is fairly small potatoes for Zuckerberg & Co. They were likely willing to make some concessions to get a longstanding legal tiff off the table. (CNET Networks, then-publisher of CNET News, had intervened in the lawsuit for the limited purpose of trying to unseal some court records.)

Facebook, unsurprisingly, has opted not to comment on this situation.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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