The soon-to-be-released movie about the founding of Facebook is fiction yet many people still don’t realize this. Based on conversations we’ve had, most people know that Facebook “isn’t happy” about the movie, however they don’t realize that it’s actually false. That could explain why the company isn’t exactly happy about the movie, which has received an insane amount of buzz.
While there are few people who will ever know the true story behind the founding of Facebook, details have slowly leaked out over the years. The most recent set of details come in the form of a set of previously unpublished IMs in which Mark Zuckerberg explains why he diluted Eduardo Saverin, one of the initial co-Founders, out of the company.
After Eduardo didn’t take an offer to fly out to Palo Alto, Mark decided to push him out of the company. As he said in an IM to fellow co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, “He was supposed to set up the company, get funding, and make a business model. He failed at all three.” It’s a legitimate point, and it’s a problem which many co-founders have dealt with. When a “partner” doesn’t participate in the creation of a business, do they deserve an equal share just because that was the intent when an agreement was signed?
Zuckerberg clearly believe that Eduardo Saeverin didn’t deserve the equity. These types of details often get ignored or glossed over when we learn about companies being sold for billions of dollars, however it’s part of the chess game which is creating a business entity. Saeverin was not exactly happy about being diluted out of the business (understandably so).
The result? A massive hollywood movie based on a story which was pitched to Ben Mezrich by Saeverin and a cool billion dollars. Not a bad deal for someone who wanted to get revenge and simultaneously cash in on one of the hottest internet startups of the past decade. While readers of this site and other tech publications may know that the upcoming movie “The Social Network” is based on a fictionalized story about the founding of Facebook as described by Saeverin and sensationalized by Ben Mezrich and Aaron Sorkin, many people won’t know that.
While the damage done to the company as a whole will be questionable, it’s pretty clear that the movie is an attack on Mark Zuckerberg’s character. Even Aaron Sorkin has all but acknowledged the fact. So far, most people who have seen the movie believe the attack is unfair (see here and here). For the time being, the only people who will know the true story of the founding of Facebook are those who created it.
In the meantime, millions of people will get to watch a fictionalized retelling of the story on the big screen.