Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday dismissed the notion that he, or more precisely "we," ever signed a contract that could ultimately give ownership of his social networking company to a New York businessman.
Earlier this week, Facebook attorneys appeared in a federal court hearing related to a lawsuit filed by New Yorker Paul Ceglia, who claims he's owed an 84% stake in the company. When the judge asked Facebook attorney Lisa Simpson whether it was Zuckerberg's signature on the copy of a contract presented by Ceglia's attorneys, Simpson reportedly said she was "unsure."
In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer Wednesday, Zuckerberg said:
If we said that we were unsure, I think that was likely taken out of context because I think we were quite sure that we did not sign a contract that says that they have any right to ownership over Facebook.
Such a comment may help put employees and investors in the private company at ease, especially as they wait for an IPO that they hope will come sooner rather than later. Based on investments in the private company so far, Facebook is estimated to be worth $24.6 billion, according to private market transaction site SharesPost.com.
And on the topic of an IPO, Zuckerberg issued his frequently repeated comment that it'll happen when the company's ready, and until then, it's nose to the grindstone. Here's more from the ABC interview on the IPO topic:
When it makes sense, right. I mean, what we're most focused on is just building these tools that help people stay connected with the people that they care about.
And at some point along the path, I think it'll make sense to have an IPO. But we're not running the company to do that.
Facebook is looking for ways to reap money from advertising and other avenues in a sustainable fashion for the long haul. In the meantime, it has hit an enviable milestone: 500 million members in just six years.