Did Facebook founder eat koala?

05:02, Jul 28 2009

A tell-all book and film about the rise of Facebook are about to rock the technology industry, with wild claims that founder Mark Zuckerberg had sex with groupies in toilet stalls and even that he dined on a koala on the yacht of a Sun Microsystems executive.

Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, has already written the script for the film adaptation, which was leaked to some film blogs this week. Kevin Spacey has signed on as co-producer while David Fincher, who made The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, is in talks to direct it.

Many of the salacious tales in the book - classified by the publisher as nonfiction - are believed to have been provided by Eduardo Saverin, one of Zuckerberg's Harvard buddies who helped him create Facebook and was an early investor in the company, before he was pushed out.

Mezrich frames the story around Zuckerberg and his co-founders creating Facebook as a way to pick up women, party and to get into a private Harvard club. Zuckerberg is portrayed as a back-stabbing genius with a fetish for Asian women.

Some of the saucy tales, revealed by The New York Times and Boston Magazine, which obtained galley copies of the book, include:

- Zuckerberg and Saverin "turning out groupies in adjacent [bathroom] stalls".


- Zuckerberg gets picked up by a Victoria's Secret model at a party in San Francisco and the pair leave together.

- A Sun Microsystems executive invites Zuckerberg and friends to feast on koala on his yacht in 2004.

- Facebook was based on "Facesmash" a Hot or Not site comparing photos of Harvard students that Zuckerberg created after he was rejected by a girl.

Zuckerberg has spent years fighting off lawsuits from old Harvard buddies who claim he is a deceptive thief who stole their idea. But, instead of attempting to resolve this issue once and for all, Mezrich is almost exclusively preoccupied with "libidinous hijinks", Boston Magazine wrote.

Mezrich maintains that his portrayal is "a true story" and all of the details were told to him "by multiple sources". But many have questioned the veracity of his account, as Saverin was, until last year, embroiled in a legal battle with Zuckerberg.

Furthermore, in his previous book, Bringing Down The House, about the maths geniuses from M.I.T who scammed Las Vegas casinos with Blackjack card-counting techniques, Mezrich admitted to fabricating some characters and situations.

That book was also turned into a film, 21, starring Spacey. In a review of Mezrich's Facebook tome for Amazon.com, Spacey described the book as "a captivating story of betrayal, vast amounts of cash, and two friends who revolutionised the way humans connect to one another".

Spacey describes Zuckerberg and Saverin as "two geeky, socially awkward Harvard undergrads who wanted nothing more than to be cool".

Hollywood blog ScriptShadow, which obtained a copy of the 162-page film script, found that it was "impressive", "unpredictable, funny, touching, and sad" and "really resonated with me".

Facebook had no involvement in the creation of the book or the film and Zuckerberg refused to be interviewed.

"Some of the writing about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook is more accurate than others," the company said in a statement.

"This book appears to fall in the `others' category. We think future efforts will tell a better and more accurate story."

Sydney Morning Herald