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2/11/2009
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Facebook-UConnect Settlement Valued At $65 Million

The law firm for Harvard students who challenged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and won, released the amount of the settlement. Terms had been ordered sealed.

There's more news this week about the money that is spun in Harvard dormitories by students with computer skills: The law firm representing the former Harvard students who sued Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly received $65 million to settle the litigation.

The law firm representing Facebook's challengers, Harvard students like Zuckerberg, reported in a newsletter that $65 million was paid out by Facebook, according to The Recorder, a legal publication.

The litigation was settled last summer with UConnect standing to receive an award of cash and Facebook stock, but the actual value of the deal was supposed to be confidential. Zuckerberg was challenged by the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, and their partner Divya Narendra, who claimed they had enlisted Zuckerberg to work on their UConnect Harvard dating service. Zuckerberg and Facebook denied any wrongdoing and filed unfair business practices litigation against UConnect.

The Recorder said UConnect's former lawyers Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges published the settlement amount -- probably inadvertently. The law firm's newsletter trumpeted the victory stating "WON $65 million settlement against Facebook." The Recorder said firm chairman John Quinn asked it to not print the settlement award figure.

Legal bickering continued after UConnect dropped the Quinn Emanuel firm and the two parties have been fighting over fees. The Recorder said new attorneys for UConnect and other attorneys for Facebook have declined to comment on the latest developments.

A payment of $65 million isn't thought to be overly significant for Facebook. When Microsoft purchased a small minority stake in the social networking firm for $240 million in 2007, it established a $15 billion valuation for Facebook, according to investment banking sources at the time. While Facebook has prospered mightily since then, its market valuation is thought to have declined along with general economic conditions.

Several spectacularly successful Internet companies have had their starts in college dorms including Google and Yahoo -- both tracing their origins to Stanford University students. The biggest college dorm startup was carried out at Harvard several years ago by Microsoft's Bill Gates, who Forbes Magazine says is the richest man in the country.

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