In what could turn out to be a costly mistake for the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg may have signed away 84% of his company. What is surprising is the fact the Zuckerberg is unsure if he in fact signed a contract which gave away the lion’s share to a previous employer. It seems that back in April, 2003, Zuckerberg did in fact contract with Paul Ceglia to work on a project to set up a database of street pictures for what now seems a paltry $1,000. At the time, Zuckerberg had just completed a project at Harvard in which he had set up an online yearbook for students.

Zuckerberg allegedly told Ceglia that he was thinking of expanding the Harvard project in what he called ‘The Face Book.’ A recent article also stated that:

The parties, appearing before Arcara for the first time in the case, also provided new details of their clients’ stories in response to questions from the judge.

“Mr. Zuckerberg did have a contract with Mr. Ceglia,” Simpson said. Zuckerberg, 26, worked for Ceglia as a computer coder, she said.

Facebook claims Ceglia remained silent for more than six years and his claim is probably too old to pursue. Also, Ceglia claims his alleged contract, which refers to “The Face Book,” was signed about nine months before Facebook was founded, the company said in court papers.

Today in court, Ceglia’s attorney, Terrence Connors, produced a copy of the two-page “work for hire” contract that his client said entitles him to control of the social-networking service.

But there was this sentence that caught my eye:

“Who knew then that it would turn into what it is today?”

What it is today is one of the world’s most popular social network sites and is valued at about $25B. It is going to be interesting to see how this court case plays out. I would venture a guess that there might be an out of court settlement and the parties will not be able to disclose the amount of the settlement nor any details.

Comments welcome.

Source – Bloomberg