Winklevoss Twins Sued by Ex-Partner Over Facebook Settlement
In 2008, the Winklevii reached a settlement with Zuckerberg, after a lengthy dispute over their proprietary rights to Facebook. The agreement reportedly stipulated that Zuckerberg would pay them $65 million -- a sum that the brothers are now disputing. Last December, however, a 27-year-old entrepreneur named Wayne Chang filed his own suit against the Winklevoss duo, claiming that part of that $65 million settlement belongs to him. Chang says that his own company merged with the brothers' ConnectU social network to create the Winklevoss Chang Group (WCG). The Winklevoss brothers' lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the suit, but Chang appealed. The two parties will head to court in January, for a scheduled hearing on the motion.
The plaintiff says he first joined forces with Team Winklevoss in 2004, not long after his file-sharing network caught fire on college campuses around the country. At the time, the twins had already started their legal fight against Facebook, and, according to Chang, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that merged his file-sharing network with their ConnectU social network. Chang's complaint argues that the Winklevosses "expressly agreed that the litigation between ConnectU and Facebook was an asset of ConnectU and WCG." Under these conditions, then, Chang would be entitled to part of the settlement.
Chang was also listed as a defendant in a counter-suit that Facebook filed against ConnectU. The Winklevosses paid for Chang's legal counsel, but the entrepreneur claims that their legal team gradually pushed him to the sidelines. He didn't even know that the twins had reached a settlement with Zuckerberg until he read about it in a news story. "I didn't even know that a settlement like that was possible," he said. "My attorneys kept me in the dark." (Chang has also sued the lawyers representing him).
It'll probably be a while, then, before this dispute comes to a close, but Chang certainly seems ready for a fight. "I just want what was rightfully mine," he said. "I just want to go for my share of the company, my share of the partnership." And the obvious irony of the situation hasn't escaped him, either. "They pretty much treated me the way they say Facebook treated them," Chang added. "I got backstabbed."