Divya Narendra came to New
York for the premiere of The
Social Network that tells his
story. Narendra, who now lives
in Illinois, grew up in New York
ivya Narendra was a junior at Harvard University when he and his roommates – twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss approached another student Marc Zuckerberg to program a social networking site, originally called Harvard Connection –
a matchmaking site for the university.
As shown in director David Fincher’s critically
The Social Network
, Zuckerberg stalled
the project by sending unsubstantial e-mails to the three,
while developing the prototype of what he eventually
called Facebook. Narendra and the twins ultimately sued
Zuckerberg for stealing their idea and reached an out-of-
court settlement with him for $65 million. They are cur-
rently involved in another lawsuit with Zuckerberg,
claiming that Facebook misled them about the value of
the stock they were to receive.
In Fincher’s film, based on a riveting screenplay by Aaron
Sorkin, Narendra is played by British-Asian actor Max
Minghella (the son of the late director Anthony Minghella).
Narendra, 28, is currently pursuing a joint JD/MBA
degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
He also runs a start-up networking site SumZero that
enables hedge fund, mutual fund and private equity ana-
lysts to share business and investment ideas. He says it is a
cross between Wikipedia and LinkedIn for the investment
Narendra spoke to Aseem Chhabra from Evanston about
his reactions to
The Social Network
and seeing his life being
played on the big screen.
I read that you are originally from Queens.
I was born in the Bronx. My parents are both doctors in
New York. Later I grew up in Bayside, Queens. My parents
still practice in Richmond Hill, Queens. I attended
Townsend Harris High School in Flushing and then left for
Harvard in 2000. I was in the class of 2004.
How much can you talk about the Facebook story, since
you are still engaged in a lawsuit with Marc Zuckerberg?
The basic story is pretty well covered and a lot of the stuff
is well-known. When I was a junior in college I came up
with the idea of an online community for Harvard stu-
He sued Marc Zuckerberg for
$65 million and won. The Social
Network focuses on the former
Harvard upperclassman’s battle.
dents, alumni community, but also we could build that out
for other colleges. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss were my
roommates at that time. I asked them to help build it, with
marketing and financing, but none of us are programmers.
The first guy I asked to work on it was another Indian, who
was a year ahead of me. He wasn’t quite committed enough
and took up a job at Google. We went through a few other
programmers. Marc Zuckerberg was referred to me by a
brother of another friend – also Indians. The younger
brother was in Zuckerberg’s class of 2006. Marc had a good
programming background, but also an entrepreneurial
track record. He had started a Web site called FaceMash.
How accurate is the film
The Social Network
seen the film I suppose.
Yes, I have seen it. The film is more fact than fiction. They
definitely didn’t make this up. It’s not fabricated and the
film tells the story from three points of view – from the
the renamed version of Harvard Connect
spective, from Eduardo Saverin’s [
co-founder of Facebook;
he provided the seed money and also sued Zuckerberg later
for being given an incorrect share
] and also from Marc
Zuckerberg’s side. I thought Aaron Sorkin [
who wrote the
] did a good job of researching the facts. A lot of
people when they see the film might think there is a certain
degree of bias, but I actually think it was a somewhat bal-
anced representation of what happened.
Did Aaron Sorkin contact you at all?
I was never contacted about the film.
When did you get hear that the film was being made?
I have known for a while, since there have been articles
written that the film was being made. I was actually very
nervous about the film…
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