Email indicates that Zuckerberg offered to help developer

Legal dispute follows Facebook CEO's purchase of property abutting his Palo Alto home

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apparently recalled he had once offered to help the real estate developer who is now suing him for failing to give him references and contacts for his business, an email filed in Santa Clara County Superior on Aug. 6 indicates.

Plaintiff Mircea Voskerician filed suit against Zuckerberg in May claiming that Zuckerberg reneged on a promise to introduce him to potential Silicon Valley buyers in exchange for a reduced price in a property deal.

Voskerician's attorney on Aug. 6 filed with the court a series of emails between Zuckerberg's administrative assistant and a financial adviser that purportedly show they were aware of the agreement. But they also allegedly knew that there would be no effort made to help Voskerician. Voskerician's attorney's Aug. 6 filing amended the original complaint to include the financial adviser in the legal battle.

A Nov. 4, 2013, email by Zuckerberg's administrative assistant to financial adviser 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. ... 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 and offered to sell Zuckerberg 2,600 square feet of 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 in the property for $250,000 plus his down payment. He claims a developer sought to purchase his interest 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 to Voskerician's interest 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 later rebuffed any attempts by Voskerician to reach him about any business deals or references, according to Voskerician.

Voskerician sent Zuckerberg an Oct. 27, 2013, letter in which he outlined some of his plans for Zuckerberg's assistance. Among them were real estate proposals and and a software application he wanted to develop for Facebook, which he claimed could attract $20 million in funding.

"Also, if you have time, I would like to go over and further discuss a few concepts, referrals, and recommendations that you offered for my development company back during our December 2nd 2012 meeting.

"I have also attached renderings of two new homes I am currently in the process of building in Los Altos, ($4.5M each) that I would like to be able to promote to Facebook employees. I will also have a $6 million dollar new home on Santa Rita, in Palo Alto. I have several other new homes located in Palo Alto and Menlo Park that will be available in 2014-2015, and have attached renderings of a few homes that have recently been completed and sold," he wrote.

He also proposed remodeling Zuckerberg's home:

"I assume that your current residence that might have an aging and older basement may have some foundations issues, water problems, or leaks during the rainy season. I would be happy to be of any assistance to build, or remodel, and will treat you as my top priority, with the utmost privacy and respect."

Voskerician's attorney, David Draper, submitted the emails to the court after Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas rejected one of Voskerician's causes of action for the lawsuit -- 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.

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Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2014 at 10:32 am

Who cares? This is a private business arrangement between two consenting adults.

If there is a moral to this story .. oral agreements might work for some people-- but it never hurts to get those agreements in writing.

Remember the old adage: No tickee .. no laundry ..

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2014 at 12:10 pm

This is just strange and stalkerish. You don't sue someone for failing to 'friend' you in real life...

Like this comment
Posted by Interesting
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Actually this offers an insight into how the developers influence city staff and council members. Sheds possible light on why the system works for them, not for residents.

Like this comment
Posted by Perry
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 9, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Somebody has to stop Zuckerberg. I applaud this developer that stands up for a promise. Go for the conviction that will teach this kid a lesson. Look forward to see Zuckerberg in court.. and What he will have to say. He is an absolute thief..screwed all his FB partners and continues act the same way and that because he is a billionaire? Who cares that he donated 120M to schools. He cheated this developer for a couple of millions.. If he did not want to help the developer and be "friends" Zuckerberg should of paid full price, period.

Like this comment
Posted by Jimmy
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Nothing to see here... move on. PA Online, unless your goal is to become the TMX of Silicon valley, i rec'd you avoid such stories.

Like this comment
Posted by Haha
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Personally, I think this is just Zuck's karma for all the people has has screwed over for the last decade, including the employees he promised mega bucks to when the company went public.

Like this comment
Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Uh, Jimmy -- TMX? Wha.....???

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Probably meant to hit the Z-key rather than adjacent X-key.

Like this comment
Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Right -- otherwise, why talk about either a financial institution, or a computer-aided translation system, in this discussion?

And as to Jimmy's point: This story isn't exactly TMZ-type material. This is a business story (albeit with elements of jealousy and stupid behavior), and as such, it deserves coverage.

Like this comment
Posted by Diana
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

Stupidberg. Karma baby. Karma

Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 11:29 am

This is "just business" in Silicon Valley and not much of a story. Just fishing for another "scandal."

Like this comment
Posted by former 38 year resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm

First of all, if Voskerician is such a high price wheeler dealer why was he so stupid as to ever trust an oral contract on such a deal, especially one with Z's reputation? Everyone knows the old adage that an oral contract is worth the paper it's written on. V not too smart!

Then we read that "Voskerician turned down his offer to buy out his interest in the property for $250,000 plus his down payment. He claims a developer sought to purchase his interest for $4.3 million, according to court papers". Even when I moved in 2008 you couldn't have bought anything on Hamilton for $250K, since maybe in the 1970s, except a garden shed. Without knowing any more, I'd think that anything in the heart of Crescent Park would more realistically be in the $4.3 Million range. So something sounds amiss with this and would appear that Z was really trying to screw V big time on that. This is quite an amusing story from this distance. Good luck with the turning of P.A. into a walled compound of just a very few big estates and high rise office buildings, populated by feuding, immature and greedy big shots. Good luck with that. Sure glad I got out when I did. What's amusing is that, according to maps, a good part of Palo Alto will be underwater in coming times, so all this will have been in vain. So goes history.

Like this comment
Posted by Roger
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 11, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Former 38 year resident, your way off base, z did not offer 250,000 and the deposit as the price of the property, he offered 250,000 as clear profit to take over the mortgage.

Like this comment
Posted by member
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 11, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I agree with Roger. In fact, based on this article and a prior article of similar topic, Z initially offered $250,000 plus V's down-payment to buy out the contract that V had negotiated with the seller. Z then increased the offer to V to $1.7M for this contract option. Both articles to me imply that Z still would need to pay the seller whatever price the seller had negotiated with V on the contract (selling price), or re-negotiated the selling price, which is between Z and the seller. Basically $1.7M is the net profit V would make by backing out of the contract with the seller so that Z can get into negotiation with the seller. Whether it's $1.7M Z offered, or $4.3M V asked for, it is a personal value one put to this contract option, with no fair market price to compare to. It is a totally different concept from the full price of the house or the property value, which could have market comparators.

Like this comment
Posted by John H
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 12, 2014 at 1:38 am

V got the land knowing that Z was the next door neighbor -> V wanted to get money from Z -> V got $1.7 M from Z but wants more because Z has lots of $$$-> Didn't work out so V goes to court -> V was never the owner of that property ->V was just in contract, made $1.7M in few weeks and wants more $$->End of the story !

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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