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This is the same guy who claims Facebook was his idea, and tried to get Facebook's trademark revoked:



I don't think we've ever met, and I'm not sure what I ever did to you to merit repeated disdainful (and in this case, misleading) jabs in public forums, but I actually think 280 North is really cool and I look forward to seeing where Atlas goes.

In the meantime, my so-called claims (which are narrow and do not include the wild notion that I "invented social networking," but do involve execution and not merely an "idea") were verified by The New York Times and are publicly available for inspection, so they're really facts. The trademark dispute is in the middle of discovery right now, and ironically, there are posts on this thread that support my case--so "tried" wouldn't be the best word to use, either.

Anyway, if you want to selectively link to only articles that call me names, that's your prerogative.


My (very low) opinion of your claims is not based on any Register article, but your own written account of your dealings with Zuckerberg, on p. 294 and up of your book Authoritas, a section I read when you had it online. I commented with my unvarnished opinion long before your Facebook lawsuit [1].

Congratulations on your small-claims win against an unprepared Google paralegal; Google should be held to account for cryptic and arbitrary policies that retract credited balances from users' accounts.

However, in your own writings and lawsuits, you give me the impression that you are a legal gadfly rather than an entrepreneur. That can be a fine niche in life, and the press loves it, but you shouldn't expect a warm reception from aspiring entrepreneurs. Successful businesspeople often have to waste precious time and money defending against, and sometimes even paying off, legal gadflies -- even when the claims are meritless.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=49294


Not that I expect to convince of anything, but your interpretation of my writing is awfully skewed. You claim I "dawdled...while Zuckerberg executed." I launched my Universal Face Book, which I coded myself, on September 19, 2003. thefacebook.com launched on February 4, 2004. Throughout those intermediate months I wrote thousands of lines of code, tried to get others interested in maintaining and growing the site, and secured partnerships. That Mark secured funding after using, speaking with me about, and then copying my work does not negate any of my actions.

The "fritter[ing] around with committees" is a phrase you used, not me. The "committee" you speak of was a few of my friends in college who were in the same club.

I didn't sit around "kvetch about media unfairness." I walked into The Crimson and waited until a reporter would talk to me so that I could show them the site.

The "redundant academic make-work" you refer to was a version control system for CS91r, a Harvard class that both Mark and I were in, and had nothing to do with any of your previous points.


Put the relevant pages of Authoritas back up, and let readers decide.

The relevant pages of Authoritas are up (they were never taken down), but I have the right to charge for them, especially given that the book is now published. In the meantime, the documents are all available and more easily accessible than the primary sources of just about any other book there is.


The meaning of text from a book being "up" here, so that other commenters can decide for themselves, obviously does not include it being behind a paywall.

Well, I just can't win then, can I.

If I charge a reasonable amount of money for my work that involved risk to produce, I'm not being transparent enough, but I'm clearly an entrepreneur. If I make everything free, I'm in the good graces of the open source movement thanks to my perfect transparency, but then of course I'm not "really" an entrepreneur.

Come on people! You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Just don't tell people stuff is available for public judgment that isn't.

I stand by my interpretation of the content now behind your paywall. I am not selling anything.

The bit about the version control system was especially telling. You implied Zuckerberg was shirking classwork to work on his side project. Meanwhile, you volunteered to write a version control system to be used by fellow coders on a speech-recognition class project.

If an entrepreneurially-minded young coder was magically sent back to Spring 2004, what should they work on? A custom version control system to be used by teammates on a single class project, or a college-oriented competitor to Friendster, MySpace, and Orkut?


Let me paraphrase your sentiment here. You think that my fatal flaw is that while simultaneously pursuing the extracurricular interests that included houseSYSTEM and running my own company (which is presently more profitable than Facebook despite its relatively small size), I was diligent in completing my coursework? That's my huge mistake?

As I describe pretty clearly in the book, I worked on the version control system and houseSYSTEM and many other things (everything you now see on http://www.thinkcomputer.com) simultaneously. Even in hindsight, I'm glad I worked on those things. I just wish I hadn't talked to Mark about them.

Like anyone I've made plenty of mistakes, and I'm perfectly willing to discuss them in relation to entrepreneurship, but clearly you've got some sort of other issue with me. Despite my best efforts to figure it out, I still don't know what it is.

Best of luck.


I would not use grandiose, loaded terms like "fatal flaw" or "huge mistake". I have no issue with your life choices, only your criticism of Zuckerberg.

In your very first comment at News.YC, you called Zuckerberg a "fraud", and pointed to your book as evidence. [1] I've looked at your evidence, and think you're either imagining things, or exaggerating to promote your career. That's all.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24742

maybe you can quote that part of the book (if you still have it?) or maybe Aaron can quote that for us - I think that comes under "fair use" :P

C'mon, you want to compete with MySpace and Friendster and Orkut in 2004? Your business plan is to compete against Google and Friendster? (MySpace hadn't been bought by News Corp. yet, and I think I hadn't heard of it, but maybe an entrepreneurial-minded person would have.)

Better than writing yet another CVS. And many of the late entrants to social-networking did OK -- Facebook, Bebo, others regionally.

First: point. Second: was that foreseeable in 2004?

The people who succeeded (and their investors) probably think they foresaw it.

Sorry if it was misleading. I just thought it was interesting to note, given your history of legal action. As for the link, it was one of the top hits on Google for whatever I searched for at the time.

Dear Aaron,

You seem to be someone who enjoys ligitating, so in an effort not to get MY ass sued, I will take a leaf out of the book of Penn Jilette.

You, sir, are a fucker, a shit-stain and a crotch weasel. You're an asshole, a jerk and I probably wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire.

Fuck you and the boat you sailed in on.

You might be willing to say this to his face (thus not contravening the HN guidelines), but it's still not the right mode of speech on this forum.

Maybe so, but I fully expect the next thing to hear about will be him suing Twitter for shutting down his viagra spam empire.

I liked when the lower cap for the score of a comment was a higher negative value. It was nice to see comments like this one at -30 or so...

On the contrary, I think having the limit makes sense precisely in this sort of situation. This is a long-standing member of the community, and he's done something not quite right... He's probably not gonna do it again, since it was clearly rejected by the community. Voting this down to -30 would not have made a difference in the effect on the poster.

By downvoting him, are we encouraging people like Aaron to use HN? Because I really don't think that domain-squatting counts as either hacking or productive economic activity ("making something people want", as pg puts it); when it's being done in order to get paid for worthless clicks, it's borderline fraud. Neither does suing companies engaged in productive activity, such as Google and Facebook. This guy is a menace to all of us who are engaged in trying to make a living by making something people want.

And you want to make sure he feels welcome on this forum?

I mean, admittedly, it's not like he's making his living by destroying the reputations of people who are making things people want (like Valleywag), but he's hardly making a positive contribution. If he had never been born, the world would be that much better for the rest of us.

That's a tricky argument to get into... How do you determine who's worthy and who's not? Who has the power? If you let things go that way, the community becomes elitist and reactionary... Everyone should be welcome to post on this site as long as they are willing to abide by the rules: stay polite, articulate, etc.

Neither does suing companies engaged in productive activity, such as Google

While I agree with you on this with regard to the relative righteousness of a domain squatter suing Google, it's worth noting that Google offers a domain squatting service. They are participating in the very activity you and I consider abhorrent (while also doing productive things, too). In fact, Google very likely makes more money from domain squatting than anyone, since they have a very strong unfair search engine advantage over spam domains from any other provider.

"If he had never been born, the world would be that much better for the rest of us." - according to Aaron's like of argument, Mark would not have gotten from him the Facebook idea and the world would be Facebook none the richer? :P

- I have a super unique idea that nobody has thought of before: an online community where you can connect with friends, send messages and stuff. Keep a lid on it though, I don't want this never-thought-of-before idea to get out!!!

(Ideas are worthless. Execution is all that matters.)

I've never understood all the AG hate on this site. I can see how you could pity the guy, or dismiss him out of hand, but a lot of people on this site seem to hold genuine malice towards him. It's bizzare.

Suing Facebook because you 'came up with the idea'?

Writing a "tell all" book and trying to sell it?

Blatently violating the Google TOS, and then suing them because they wouldn't tell you what part of the TOS you violated?

That's 3 pretty big reasons.

I don't even have an opinion on AG. I'm just saying that having "the idea of Facebook", and that you were the first to have that, is retarded.

First of all, it's a really really old idea.

Second of all, the idea is irrelevant. What made Facebook succeed was the execution. That goes for most of the other online successes as well. Selling books online, or search, aren't novel ideas. Amazon and Google, too, succeeded because of execution. They all did.

>I can see how you could pity the guy, or dismiss him out of hand

I think more people would feel that way if legal action wasn't involved. Suits & lawsuits tend to leave a bad taste in people's mouths...

They're entrepreneurs here, or at least they identify with entrepreneurs. I think it makes perfect sense.

This makes no sense, actually. I incorporated my company in 1998, so if entrepreneurs always identify with other entrepreneurs, then...


All the more reason for them to hate you, backstabbing cockbite.

See now even I dislike you a little & I'm not an entrepreneur :)

What's really strange is that all this hate gets so much positive karma. Anytime I post something like these guys, I get blasted into the negative.

I'd be curious to know the general thought on how often it's appropriate to get yourself into these types of legal issues. (AG seems to have a pretty loose trigger finger when it comes to serving papers.)

He must have his fans, too. Many of his comments have high karma scores, and apparently people like this article he wrote and submitted. I can see why they might not be terribly vocal in the face of all these people willing to be negative, though.

Big same. Bucknell University, where I worked as a teenager on their computer help desk, had an electronic facebook that all the techies jokingly referred to as "Stalker.net". That was 1998.

I don't know when Friendster launched, but i know people who've had profiles since 2002, so again, a "social networking site" had already been done and launched.

Also: sixdegrees.com.

Is there any relevance to that tidbit in this context? ... thought not. Ad-hominem ftw.

-2? Wow. For educational purposes, could those who down voted my comment provide an explanation. I mean... the linked article was about Google and a closed account... and someone seems to remember some Facebook thing and tossed it in, presumably to discredit the subject from the start. If those are not the very definition of OT and ad-hominem, what are they? No biggie, I care little about karma, but I would like to know why?

I would guess the combination of heavy sarcastic tone and light information content.

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