Divya Narendra was one of the co-founders of Harvard Connection (now ConnectU).
One of the first individuals to come up with creating a social network, Divya Narendra revealed how his idea was stolen by Mark Zuckerberg.
“You stole our idea”. Those thoughts were echoed by him to Zuckerberg in a makeshift office at Harvard University where a small team were writing endless lines of code in a dorm room.
That piece of code written at Kirkland House set up a company which is currently valued at tens of billions of dollars and has over 2 billion people using the social network every day.
He co-founded the social networking site Harvard Connection (now ConnectU) in December 2002 with brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
Cameron and Tyler immediately found potential in his idea and joined the three-member team at Harvard Connection.
Nearly a year later, Zuckerberg had heard about the social network in November 2003 and instantly said yes to joining the team.
During that period, there had been a significant amount of coding completed, including a way of users connecting with each other called “the handshake”.
Project details were shared between Narendra and Zuckerberg where the current Facebook CEO was given private server location and password access to the unfinished website and code.
He reportedly stopped replying to Narendra’s emails and text messages where he made some changes to the website that were working on his computer.
Zuckerberg had registered the domain name for the website “thefacebook.com” on Sunday 11th January 2004.
On the 4th February that year, the Harvard student who finished his first year on campus launched Facebook. Users would require a Harvard.edu email address in order to access the service.
Harvard Connection’s Narendra first found out about Facebook two days after the website launch on 6th February 2004.
An unsuccessful meeting with the Dean of Harvard University followed with Narendra and the Winklevoss brothers finally suing Zuckerberg in 2009.
He accused the Facebook CEO of “intellectual property theft”, as well as saying that Zuckerberg “illegally used source code intended for the website he was hired to create”.
The case went on for four years where the social networking site grew exponentially, establishing presences outside of universities and into six continents across the world.
Previously, Mr Zuckerberg said he had not used a single piece of code that was used for the Harvard Connection website.
Both parties had finally come to an out-of-court settlement where Facebook paid $65 million dollars (approx. Rs. 4.2 billion, £45.7 million GBP) in February 2009 to Narendra and the Winklevoss brothers.
Narendra is also a part owner of Facebook and owns a small percentage of the tech giant’s shares as a part of the settlement.
The Indian-American businessman now runs his own investment website for professional investors called SumZero with fellow Harvard student Aalap Mahadevia.
SumZero was inspired by a need for investors to work together, share investment ideas and network with employees at hedge funds, mutual funds and private equity firms.
As the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica investigations are still ongoing, Narendra believes the social network is not responsible for misusing 87 million users’ data.
It remains to be seen what the outcome will be for Facebook as Narendra has defended Zuckerberg of any wrongdoing.