The legal saga continues for Divya Narendra, the Harvard grad who teamed up with the Winklevoss brothers and sued Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook's provenance. Here's Narendra's take on The Social Network and lessons learned from the lawsuit.
Interview by Andrea Carter, Poets & Quants
For six years, Divya Narendra has been in a fiery legal dispute with Mark Zuckerberg, alleging that he stole his concept for ConnectU and capitalized off of it with a little known social networking site called Facebook.
In 2008, he and his partners, twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, signed a $65 million settlement agreement containing a mix of cash and Facebook stock. The settlement is still in dispute, Narendra says, due to a lack of disclosure regarding Facebook's stock valuation.
Now, with The Social Network in movie theaters, the saga continues on the big screen.
Still, the New York City native insists that he is not bitter. He is keeping himself busy with a new Internet venture for investment professionals called SumZero while pursuing a JD-MBA at Northwestern Law School and the Kellogg School of Management.
Here's what he had to say about Facebook and Zuckerberg, The Social Network, and his next steps.
How did you come up with the idea for your social networking site while at Harvard?
During my junior year, I realized that there was no online platform for Harvard students to connect with one another regarding academics, student life, and campus news and events. That's when I came up with the idea for ConnectU, an online community that could benefit students and alumni at Harvard as well students at other colleges in the Boston area. Thinking long-term, I knew ConnectU could also be used by students at colleges across the country.
This was during the 2002-2003 timeframe so the idea was partly inspired by sites such as Friendster and MySpace. The problem with these sites, however, was the lack of quality control and membership screening, resulting in a proliferation of fake profiles. The key realization that I had was the need to build an online community for Harvard where you could screen users by their email addresses. By requiring a "Harvard.edu" email, we could ensure that those who registered had an actual affiliation to the institution.
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