Zucherberg to ‘face’ legal action

25 Jul 2007

A day in court awaits Mark Zucherberg, as the 23-year-old founder of popular social networking site Facebook stands accused of stealing not just the idea for Facebook, but also original coding from his former place of work.

The founders of ConnectU, a college-based social networking site in Boston, Massachusetts, say the look and the course code for Facebook were stolen from them while Zucherberg worked for their company doing some coding.

This, ConnectU claims, breaches both copyright law and employer-employee confidentiality.

Zucherberg maintains that he did nothing wrong and that he thought ConnectU (formerly known as Harvard Connection) was a personals site, and not a social networking site like the one he went on to launch three months after working with the company.

ConnectU not only wants Facebook shut down immediately, it also demands that both profits and control of the site be handed over.

Although the Facebook founder only visits court today at a time when the social networking site’s popularity is at an all-time high and looking set to surpass MySpace, the copyright infringement claim was filed in 2004 when Facebook only had a user base of 200,000.

On the heels of the court case comes news that former chief financial officer (CFO) of YouTube, Gideon Yu, has just been hired by Facebook to join its ranks in the same position.

Facebook seems determined to stay independent as last year it reportedly turned down an acquisition offer by Yahoo!.

Along with a new CFO, it recently acquired Parakey, a start-up specialising in web/desktop platforms from two of the people behind popular internet browser Firefox.

A company director said Facebook, currently with 39 million users, will not be going public for at least 18 months, but would consider a buyout offer if over US$10bn.

By Marie Boran