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Aaron Greenspan, a Harvard acquaintance of Mark Zuckerberg’s, has published never-before-seen IMs allegedly written by Greenspan and Facebook’s co-founder over a six-month period in 2004.
The IMs cover a range of topics including Facebook’s launch, its similarity to Greenspan’s company, HouseSYSTEM, and Zuckerberg’s high school friend and Quora co-founder, Adam D’Angelo.
Greenspan says he found the IMs last week while hunting for information about Charlie Cheever, Quora’s recently departed co-founder, from his junior year of college.
“It turns out that my ‘Other folder’ contained some of the most important legal evidence regarding the origins of Facebook, Inc. that I had been trying to find for years, but without much success.” Greenspan writes.
Greenspan has long been at odds with Zuckerberg. When Zuckerberg tried to trademark the word “Facebook” in 2009, Greenspan opposed him. The pair reached a settlement.
Greenspan later sued “The Social Network” movie producers, claiming he should have been included in the story of Facebook’s history.
For years, Greenspan has been trying to show how Mark Zuckerberg wronged him.
“Mark has a pattern of pathologically lying to people,” Greenspan tells Business Insider. ”It’s not just me, it’s not just the Winklevosses, it’s not just Adam, not just Eduardo. It happened a lot and that makes me concerned for anyone who would trust their retirement savings to him. Aside from that, he admits that it’s based on houseSYSTEM. It’s pretty plain. And I’ve spent the past decade trying to convince people of that so I can get my own career started, and it’s been pretty difficult.”
So what exactly did Mark Zuckerberg do to make Greenspan so spiteful?
Honestly, it doesn’t seem like much.
In the first IM conversation from 2004, Zuckerberg allegedly approached Greenspan about Facebook pre-launch. He told Greenspan that he had created a product that was more or less a “souped up version” of a HouseSYSTEM feature, and that the two companies might be competitive.
Zuckerberg offered to make Greenspan a Facebook partner so they wouldn’t go head to head, but Greenspan turned him down:
zberg02: i have a question
zberg02: are you interested in doing other things besides the housesystem venture?
ThinkComp: in what context
zberg02: like would you be interested in possibly partnering up to make a site if it would not be incorporated into housesystem
ThinkComp: for the sec? think? or separate
zberg02: separate i guess
ThinkComp: depends on the site i guess
zberg02: well it would be on the new thing i’m working on
zberg02: i could let you know exactly what i was thinking about it, but i’m a little worried that you might just be inclined to want to incorporate it into housesystem
zberg02: which isn’t something i want right off the bat, and maybe not at all
ThinkComp: i guess i’d need to see the advantage of starting on something new
ThinkComp: since i’ve already sort of got a lot going on…
ThinkComp: it’s much easier to just incorporate things where they fit from my perspective
zberg02: well i agree
zberg02: but we disagree on whether or not it would fit into housesystem
zberg02: well really i just want to make sure that we’re not doing the same thing
zberg02: because then neither of us would succeed i think
In that initial conversation, the pair seemed friendly. But then Zuckerberg named his product “thefacebook,” the same name of the HouseSYSTEM feature he had “souped up.” Greenspan admits the name immediately put him on the defensive.
That June, once thefacebook was on its way to taking off, Zuckerberg and Greenspan still seemed cordial. Zuckerberg allegedly told Greenspan he was one of “six people in the world who has decent ideas” and even insinuated a job offer at his social network. Greenspan still turned him down.
zberg02: hey man
zberg02: i was just wondering where you’re working after college
ThinkComp: i’m working for myself
zberg02: sorry that it’s kind of out of the blue
zberg02: you pulled it off
ThinkComp: well, not really
ThinkComp: i hope i will pull it off
ThinkComp: right now i’m too dead tired to do much of anything
zberg02: eh no hope
zberg02: you’ll do fine
zberg02: there are only like six people in the world who have decent ideas
zberg02: and it’s the job of the rest of the people to accuse us of taking their ideas haha
zberg02: while we just continually kick ass
When Greenspan did finally ask Zuckerberg for a job at Facebook, he says Zuckerberg told him he ”didn’t have enough technical experience.”
While those just seem like regrettable, missed opportunities and petty annoyances, all of those things have been boiling up inside Greenspan for years.
Now Greenspan is angry with everyone who doesn’t view Zuckerberg as a fraud.
He’s angry at the press for spinning Zuckerberg’s wheels. He’s angry with investors for supporting an “everyday megalomaniac.” He’s mad at the SEC for letting Facebook become such a big public company. And he says Zuckerberg has “almost completely ruined his career.”
But the biggest crime Zuckerberg seems to have committed is hurting a former friend’s feelings.
All Greenspan seems to want is a little credit and an apology. But Zuckerberg’s lack of remorse has made Greenspan bitter.
“It’s remarkable just how close Mark and I seemed at the beginning, even after just meeting each other, which might help explain why I felt so deeply wounded in the ensuing months and years,” Greenspan writes.
“The icing on the cake is that for a period of years, from roughly 2008-2011, Mark lived exactly one block away from me in College Terrace … It wouldn’t have been difficult for him to stop by and apologize for any misunderstanding. I got a grin and a wave, but an apology never came. There was no remorse.”