Here are two very different scenes from last night: on the left, you have the team from Qwiki, a small video-sharing app that Yahoo! just purchased for $50 million. They're getting trashed at the top of New York's glamorously overpriced Standard Hotel. On the right, you have the people who say they're the real creators, and were screwed out of a fortune.
They can't both be right—either Qwiki's money is entirely Qwiki's, or the team at Chaotic Moon, a mobile app development studio, deserve a cut. But the spectre of intellectual property litigation—which sure sounds like a buzzkill to me—didn't stop the new Yahoo! employees from celebrating and Instagramming like they earned every dollar. The usual accoutrements were all there: the tech-themed signature drink, the open bar, the oddball entertainment (bongo drums? Sure!), and a pricey location.
The Chaotic Moon team, on the other hand, spent the night pleading their case on Twitter:
Chaotic Moon did design and develop a late iteration of the Qwiki product. At present, Chaotic Moon has an ongoing lawsuit against Qwiki in the New York County Supreme Court citing Qwiki’s failure to pay, which remains unresolved.
In January, Lamm originally sought damages of over $100,000 in missed payments for helping code Qwiki. Court documents (in full, below) show that Qwiki denies missing payment and says it had to re-do a lot of Chaotic Moon's work anyway. The last filing was before Yahoo! made Qwiki rich, and millions upon millions were on the table—I can only imagine the dispute's a hell of a lot more salty now that it revolves around a $50 million idea.
Yes, it's always dubious when someone goes after someone who just got rich off an idea, claiming they're owed something. But Chaotic Moon's been griping with Qwiki before anyone was rich, when it was just another startup, not a gravy train taking back shots amid the bongos at the Standard Hotel.
Chaotic Moon's claim of damages against Qwiki