Winklevosses lash out at Larry Summers over remarks


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The Winklevosses are taking their grievances over a public tongue lashing from Larry Summers to Harvard University President Drew Faust.

In a letter to Faust that lashes back at Summers, the Winklevosses and their partner, Divya Narendra, asked Faust to address Summers’ use of derogatory language to characterize them. They contend that kind of remark about former students from a faculty member is an ‘unprecedented betrayal.’


Summers was the president of Harvard University when Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook. The Winklevosses allege that Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from them. A scene of a meeting in Summers’ office is in last year’s film, ‘The Social Network.’

Summers was being interviewed Wednesday by Walter Isaacson, chief executive of the Aspen Institute, at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference when, according to a video of the interview published online by Fortune magazine, Isaacson asked Summers, ‘So was that scene in ‘The Social Network’ true?’

Summers responded, getting a laugh out of those in attendance:

I’ve heard it said that I can be arrogant. If that’s true, I surely was on that occasion. One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an [expletive]. This was the latter case. Rarely, have I encountered such swagger, and I tried to respond in kind.

The Winklevosses say they sought out Summers for ‘advice and mentorship’ in the dispute with Zuckerberg.

From the letter:

His manner was not inconsistent with his reputation and present day admissions of being tactfully challenged. It was not his failure to shake hands with the three of us upon entering his office (doing so would have required him to take his feet off his desk and stand up from his chair), nor his tenor that was most alarming, but rather his scorn for a genuine discourse on deeper ethical questions, Harvard’s Honor Code, and its applicability or lack thereof. We now further understand why our meeting was less than productive; someone who does not value ethics with respect to his own conduct, would likely have little interest in this subject as it related to the conduct of others. Perhaps there is a ‘variability of aptitude’ for decency and professionalism among university faculty.


Summers has taken on a large role in Silicon Valley lately. He has joined venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a special advisor, and he joined the board of Jack Dorsey’s mobile payments start-up Square.


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-- Jessica Guynn