Estranged Facebook Co-Founder No Longer At War With The Social Network

This morning, CNBC’s Guest Blog is going to grab a whole lot of eyeballs: Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook cofounder who initially financed the company and later sued it for a settlement that left him with shares worth a reported $1.1 billion dollars, has penned an article called “What I Learned From Watching “The Social Network”. But don’t get too excited — despite what you might expect, the article doesn’t have  even the faintest whiff of controversy or scandal.

Public awareness of Saverin is at an all-time high because of the film, which dramatically (and to some extent, fictionally) portrays how Saverin was betrayed, having his significant stake in the company whittled down considerably by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. So what does Saverin have to say about the hit film? Not a whole lot. In fact, he says so little about the movie itself that this reads almost like a PR olive branch — a display to the public that, despite the dramatic falling out the film ends with, he’s not still enemies with Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook.

Saverin kicks off his article by talking about his emotions as he began watching the film and the questions running through his mind: “Would it be accurate? Would it showcase our failures, as well as our successes?”. But he quickly pivots away from the movie itself, in favor of what it had to say about entrepreneurship:

What I gleaned from viewing “The Social Network” was bigger and more important than whether the scenes and details included in the script were accurate. After all, the movie was clearly intended to be entertainment and not a fact-based documentary. What struck me most was not what happened – and what did not – and who said what to whom and why. The true takeaway for me was that entrepreneurship and creativity, however complicated, difficult or tortured to execute, are perhaps the most important drivers of business today and the growth of our economy.

He continues on about the importance of entrepreneurship for a while, using broad strokes to explain why it’s fundamentally important to the worldwide economy, and what challenges it faces. But he only mentions Mark Zuckerberg once, and it’s in a positive light:

With Facebook, we built a product because we believed in it and its function, and wanted it to exist.

Today, Facebook affects the world in so many more ways than just its initial execution at Harvard. Mark Zuckerberg successfully developed an entirely new world for daily interactions. Today, the Facebook platform brings a social layer to many of the ordinary actions we conduct online everyday.

The creation of a business from the embryo of a concept is the genius of the entrepreneur.

All of this good will (or at least, a lack of complaints) from Saverin is especially interesting because reports indicate that he was actually the key source for Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, which the movie was based on. From Silicon Alley Insider’s coverage:

Eventually, sources say, Eduardo decided to attack Mark’s reputation.
He approached Ben Mezrich – the author of Bringing Down The House, a book about how a group of MIT students made it big in Vegas – and offered him a book about how a group of Harvard students made it big in Silicon Valley. Bringing Down The House makes its characters out to be rock stars and scoundrels; the Facebook book, Accidental Billionaires, does the same. The upcoming movie based on the book features cocaine, models, and dark, moody, lighting from the director who brought you Fight Club. It’s a character assasination.
After Eduardo began talking to Mezrich, he and Facebook settled their lawsuits. Facebook went from officially denying Eduardo’s status as a cofounder to listing him as one on its Web site. As a part of the settlement, Eduardo stopped talking to the press.

Another thing to note: according to reports (including the SAI article cited above), Saverin is not supposed to be talking to the press about Facebook. Which makes me wonder if this was run by some high-ranking Facebook executives (perhaps even Zuckerberg himself) for approval before publication. After all, $1.1 billion seems like a lot to risk. Then again, the article is about the film rather than Facebook itself, so he may be in the clear regardless.

Facebook’s had this to say about the article:

“We appreciate the sentiments and we wish Eduardo well.”