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Email indicates that Zuckerberg offered to help developer

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apparently recalled he had once offered to help a real estate developer who is now suing him for reneging on that promise, an email filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court indicates.

Plaintiff Mircea Voskerician filed suit against Zuckerberg in May claiming that Zuckerberg promised to introduce him to potential Silicon Valley buyers in exchange for a reduced price on a property deal. But Zuckerberg allegedly ignored him after the property deal went through, according to the lawsuit.

Voskerician's attorney filed a series of emails with the court Aug. 6 between Zuckerberg's administrative assistant and a financial adviser that purportedly show they were aware of the agreement. But they allegedly knew that there would be no effort made to help Voskerician, according to papers filed on Aug. 6. Voskerician's attorney also wants to amend the complaint to also sue the financial adviser.

A Nov. 4, 2013, email by Zuckerberg's administrative assistant to one of his financial advisers, Divesh Makan, indicates that Zuckerberg recalled offering to help Voskerician, although it does not indicate in what capacity.

"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. Is there a way when we chat with him that we can find out a way for us (not necessarily Mark) to help him with something small?

"Also ... we'll have to manage this carefully because we don't want to give an inch and then ... Definitely not interested in using his services as a developer," the assistant wrote.

Voskerician made an offer on a property at 1457 Hamilton Ave. in Palo Alto in November 2012, which was accepted by the seller. The property abuts Zuckerberg's back yard. Voskerician claims he planned to build a large home on the property and offered to sell Zuckerberg 2,600 square feet of the land in the back yard to provide the Facebook CEO with more privacy.

Zuckerberg wanted to purchase the entire property, however. Voskerician turned down his offer to buy out his interest for $250,000 plus his down payment. He claims a developer sought to purchase his interest in the property for $4.3 million, according to court papers.

In early December 2012 Zuckerberg and Voskerician met and came to an agreement, according to the lawsuit. Zuckerberg allegedly entered into an oral contract buy Voskerician's interest in the property for $1.7 million in exchange for introducing him to Zuckerberg's friends, clients and business associates. He allegedly offered to give Voskerician written references to promote his real estate business, the lawsuit claims. But Zuckerberg rebuffed any attempts by Voskerician to reach him about any business deals or references, according to Voskerician.

Voskerician's attorney, David Draper, submitted the emails to the court after Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas rejected one of Voskerician's causes of actions -- Zuckerberg's concealment -- on July 15. Voskerician claimed that Zuckerberg intentionally failed to disclose and actively concealed that he had no intention of honoring his representations and commitments to Voskerician.

Draper has asked the court to accept an amended complaint that adds Makan, a principal of Iconiq Capital, to the lawsuit. The amended complaint includes the string of emails between Zuckerberg's administrative assistant and Makan that purport to show an intent to aid Zuckerberg's deception.

Patrick Gunn, Zuckerberg's attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Comments

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Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Why is it that extremely wealthy people feel the need to short-change people on business deals? Does it make them feel superior to others? To enter into a deal with no intention, or a very limited intention of honoring an agreement, shows a complete lack of integrity. There was a time when I thought naively that Americans were ethical in their dealings. Boy, was I wrong.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Simply a case of sour grapes. Voskerician got $1.7 million dollars for simply allowing Zuckerberg to purchase the property instead of purchasing it himself. And if I remember correctly, Voskerician planned on building on the property and marketing the house as being "next to Mark Zuckerberg" (I would want to buy him out too) After purchasing this property, Zuckerberg also purchased the other homes around his house for something like 10-14 million each. Sour grapes


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Brian is a registered user.

If this is the guy that was planning on buying the property to market it as "Mark Zuckerbergs neighbor" he deserves nothing. He tried to make money off someone elses name, to the detriment of that person, then he made a lot of money (1.7 million) to walk away and now he wants more. I really hope this guy gets what he deserves, nothing but a lot of legal bills. I know I would not want to "Help" someone like this and I certainly would not introduce him to my friends and business associates. In fact I would actively warn them against a person who does business like that.

I guess the good news is that this lawsuit gets his name out there and acts as a warning for anyone who might have dealings with this person.


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Posted by Hold on…
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 13, 2014 at 12:10 am

It sounds like a couple of things are at issue here:

1. There is confirmation in the e-mail that Mark Zuckerberg did offer to "help" the developer in exchange for buying out his offer for $1.7M. This is some indication that $1.7M was not full value for the transaction. Had it been, no such promises would have been offered or required.

2. Yes, many of us would be pleased with an instant $1.7M bonanza, but this was a very unique situation in which a zillionaire was going to buy up the surrounding homes for far greater than normal market value.

3. The developer was probably foolish to accept the deal on a handshake. A far more clever way to skin this cat would have been to say the price was $2.5M, with $1.7M paid up front, and $800K being forgiven at the rate of $100K per month for each introduction Zuckerberg made over the next eight months.

4. The developer trusted Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg didn't follow through. The developer is greedy. So is Zuckerberg.

5. Rich and famous people tend to get sued a lot, and should be very careful in refraining from making promises. Zuckerberg should insist in every transaction he performs that there is nothing promised other than what is explicitly written down to protect himself from this type of stuff.

I don't see any clear villain here.


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Posted by Larry
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Unfortunatelly for Zuck verbal agreements are enforceable (many people ignore this crucial legal fact) and also the developer had witnesses at the meeting when those promisses were made and now email proofs that.... When is this trial?? Cannot take more then 5 minutes to debate...
Lets not confuse Zuck's promise with other purchases ..this developer gave Zuck more then enough time to deliver and could off be done very easily by just send him off to some people he knew or put him in contact with somebody from his close circle of friends to do the introductions..

Developer should get this to trial it will be well worth it. He has a 4.3M offer on hand..and he lost it since Zuck made those promisses...to help him...What is the dilema again? [portion deleted.]


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