Mark Zuckerberg may have learned a valuable lesson this past week from a rag-tag assemblage of commoners. Zuckerberg, the multi-billionaire of Facebook, quietly withdrew the numerous lawsuits he had filed against his neighbors on the small Hawaiian island of Kauai. It seems that the unfavorable light cast by the press on his quest to consolidate land in and around his estate may have been a bit too uncomfortable.
Zuckerberg is used to getting what he wants, when he wants. After all, billions of dollars in net worth rarely has a humbling effect!
Zuckerberg first purchased his vast expanse of land on tiny Kauai in 2014 for the tidy sum of $100 million.
The estate, previously part of the Kilauea Sugar Company, occupies some very prime real estate, but is peppered through, and surrounded by, privately owned parcels.
Initially, rather than follow long-established island legal protocols, Zuckerberg, and his wife Priscilla Chan, filed lawsuits urging the sale at auction of parcels whose ownership was unknown, or in question.
The parcels, regardless of the lack of clear title, historically can be traced to Native Hawaiians from the time of Hawaiian royalty to the present days. The acceptable way to acquire land in cases such as these is through a quiet title process rather than a very public lawsuit.
Fortunately for the Zuckerbergs, once the process was explained to them in greater detail, they opted to exercise their better judgment. Earlier in the day, in conjunction with pulling the lawsuits, the owners of the massive estate issued a letter of explanation and apology.
Now that they understand the process, the family is eager to embark on “a new approach” with the community.
For some context, the Zuckerbergs aren’t the only large land owners in the Hawaiian Islands. The island of Ni’ihau is owned in its entirety by brothers Bruce and Keith Robinson.
Visits to the island, and its 130 or so inhabitants, is strictly controlled. Let’s hope that the Zuckerbergs don’t have similar designs on Kauai!