New emails submitted as evidence by purported Facebook owner Paul Ceglia paint the social network's co-founder Mark Zuckerberg as a scheming little bastard. Now Ceglia's new powerhouse law firm just has to prove the emails are real.
Nevertheless, Henry Blodget at Business Insider, the first site to run the emails, points to the weeks of due diligence performed by Ceglia's new lawyers at DLA Piper, a respected global law firm that probably wouldn't have taken the case if it thought Ceglia didn't have a reasonable claim.
He also correctly notes that the stakes are much higher now - if the emails are authenticated, Ceglia will likely extract hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement money for his original investment of $US1000. If they are proven false, he's probably going to jail for a nice stretch of time.
Among the more egregiously misleading emails from Zuckerberg are this one, from April 2004, in which Zuckerberg says:
"I have become too busy to deal with the site and no one wants to pay for it, so I am thinking of just taking the server down. My parents have a fund that I can tap into for my college expenses and I would just like to give you your two thousand dollars back and call it even...."
Then in July 2004, Zuckerberg allegedly sends this other email, saying:
"I am really sorry I behaved as I did. Please give me your address and I will mail you back the $US2000 for your trouble, more if it will repair our business relationship. Another summer is here and I still don't have any time to build our site, I understand that I promised I would, but other things have come up and I am out in California working during break."
At the time of that email, Zuckerberg was one week from incorporating Facebook in Delaware. He was in California working full time on the social network, even as he purportedly told Ceglia, "I still don't have any time to build our site."
Of course, this sort of deception is a much more serious version of what Zuckerberg apparently did to Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who, ludicrous though their outlandish claims on modern day Facebook may be, were at Harvard misled into thinking they were classmate Zuckerberg's partners and that he was working on their own social networking project. Instead, Zuckerberg was building Facebook and telling his real friends "I'm going to fuck them." The question now is whether Zuckerberg's emails to Ceglia show a reprise of that behaviour - or a fraud inspired by it.
[Photo of Zuckerberg via Getty. Photo of Ceglia via Classmates.com]