Emails filed in a legal dispute show Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg remembered saying he would provide some kind of help to a local home-builder, who's now suing Zuckerberg for allegedly failing to deliver on a promise of business referrals.
An attorney for Palo Alto builder Mircea Voskerician filed the emails in Santa Clara County Superior Court this week, hoping to bolster his argument that Zuckerberg and his personal financial adviser broke an agreement with Voskerician when they rebuffed his attempts to meet personally and provide introductions to other wealthy Silicon Valley residents.
Voskerician also wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg that he wanted to discuss an unspecified business idea involving Facebook. An email shows that Zuckerberg's assistant alerted Facebook executives about Voskerician's attempts to contact the CEO, saying she wanted to let them know "before it escalates from either a security or PR standpoint."
The dispute stems from Zuckerberg's 2012 effort to buy a neighboring lot behind his home in Palo Alto, after learning that Voskerician planned to buy the property and build a large house next to the social-networking billionaire. Ultimately, Zuckerberg paid more than $43 million in separate deals to buy four houses and lots adjacent to his own home in the upscale Crescent Park neighborhood of Palo Alto.
Voskerician had negotiated to buy the lot behind Zuckerberg's but agreed to let Zuckerberg take over the purchase for $1.7 million. Voskerician is now suing Zuckerberg, arguing that he gave the Facebook CEO a discount after Zuckerberg promised to help Voskerician's business by making introductions to potential home-buyers.
Zuckerberg attorney Patrick Gunn declined to comment specifically on the emails, but he said Thursday: "We continue to believe this lawsuit has no merit whatsoever and we look forward to our day in court when we're going to prove that." Voskerician's attorney, David Draper, declined comment.
But in a court filing, Draper argues that emails turned over by Zuckerberg's lawyers show the Facebook CEO made promises he didn't intend to keep. In one email, Zuckerberg's assistant wrote: "I just had a quick chat with Mark on this issue -- and he said he does remember saying that he would help this guy in a 'light' way."
In another email, Zuckerberg financial adviser Divesh Makan said he would talk to Voskerician. "We have no interest in doing anything with him, but this will hopefully put his desire to meet Mark to bed," Makan wrote. He added later, "I highly doubt we are going to be helpful" to Voskerician "but we will certainly try!"