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The Celebpreneur

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Celebpreneur Travis Kalanick and his girlfriend

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a famous person who organises and operates a business or businesses and often uses his/her social standing to use as influence for personal gain or for favours from other people or businesses

Sometimes a glimpse into email leaks or email hacks can reveal interesting facets about a person with a public persona. Take for example, the Sony email hacks, or the Hillary Clinton email leaks- the latter which revealed that Hillary and her daughter were rather likable characters and the former giving a glimpse into Evan Spiegel's conscience in wanting to build a solid business via revenue generation for SnapChat and even George Clooney's humility as a film director.

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Chelsea Clinton, strangely likable and down-to-earth after revealing her emails to her mom, Hillary Clinton, in which she called the United Nations: mind-numbingly incompetent and out of touch
So it is no surprise then that Mark Zuckerberg has been found to use his star status to get better deals for himself, including discounts and other related business dealings. Recently, he has been the focus of another lawsuit, this time for fraud. However, although the charges sound quite serious, in reality, it appears to be yet another frivious lawsuit that borders on satire.

Here are the full court case documents, but for those of you who find legal jargon incredibly tedious to sift through, I'll give the highlights of this rather amusing lawsuit:

The Scene: A real estate developer wanted to build an LA-type McMansion to sell for in the realm of $4.3 million behind Mark Zuckerberg's modest suburban home in Palo Alto with a view right into Zuckerberg's bedroom.

To protect his privacy, Mark Zuckerberg and his financial adviser decided to purchase the lot behind his house and met with the real estate developer Mircea Voskerician. To get a better deal for the transaction, Mark's financial adviser wrote:

"We are trying to 'wow' these schmucks so they will accept an offer for the home that is reasonable," Zuckerberg's financial adviser, Divesh Makan, wrote to the CEO's assistant in late 2012. "The plan is to have [Zuckerberg] spend 15 [minutes] with them, make them feel special etc. Perhaps you can prepare [two] goodie bags as well." pp.9

Mark agreed and wrote: “feel free to use meeting me as a negotiating carrot with them. That likely has real soft value to them and may make them more likely to want to give us a good deal.” (pp9)

The goodie bags filled with Facebook t-shirts and cup holders must have worked because Mark had allegedly received a $2.6 million discount on the real estate transaction (from $4.3 million total), although this could be debatable since Mark lives in a neighbourhood where houses are in the realm of $700K-$1.5 million and the lot behind his house would probably be in the same ballpark region, although it could also be argued that his presence in the neighbourhood most likely raised all the real estate value in the area.

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The Zuckerberg residence in Palo Alto, California

After closing escrow in December 2012, Mark then fielded all calls and meetings with the real estate developer, who alleged that Mark had made an oral agreement to introduce him to potential new clients and promote his business. After being ignored by Mark Zuckerberg, the real estate developer then filed a lawsuit for fraud, breach of oral agreement, and conspiracy to commit fraud.

America is known for frivolous lawsuits and excessive litigation, and this case is probably one of them. If using star power to receive discounts and free stuff is a conspiracy to commit fraud, then the real estate developer might consider taking his lawsuit and applying it to all of Hollywood. So what if the Zucks fielded calls and meetings with a guy who was planning to build a McMansion as a kind of tourist attraction with a view straight into his bedroom? I think anyone would've avoiding doing business with a guy who had such unsavoury motives in the first place.

The only legit case here is one of wanton greed and exploitation: Mircea Voskerician targeting a celebpreneur for personal gain and profit.

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The amusing lesson here: if you're doing business with a company and they bring out the celebpreneur to the meeting, they're probably hoping that you would be starstuck enough to forgo all your negotiation skills.

Oh, and don't be charmed by those goodie bags. Certainly the best goodie bags are supposedly the ones from parties at Vanity Fair and the Oscars, which are filled with Cartier watches and FlipCameras, but most likely someone is probably aiming to get a discount in the realm of $2.5+ million (or a free endorsement).