Who are the Winklevoss Twins?
The Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, are American Bitcoin investors. The duo set up the Winklevoss Capital Management and the Gemini exchange with an income they earned from a significant legal settlement and a crypto business.
Cameron and Tyler competed in the male pair boat rowing sport at Beijing’s Summer Olympics in August 2008. Their fame could be traced back to Harvard University, where they developed ConnectU, a social networking site with a schoolmate in 2004. In the same year, they took Facebook’s pioneer Mark Zuckerberg to court, accusing him of plagiarizing their idea to create one of the currently leading social media sites.
However, the brothers agreed to a settlement offer of 65 million USD from Mark. They invested part of the amount in Bitcoin and the rest in Facebook shares. Their net worth in 2019 was an estimated 1.4 billion USD, according to Bloomberg.
— Cameron Winklevoss (@cameron) May 18, 2019
Early Life, Education, and Sports
The twins were born in August 1981 in New York, United States. The identical twins exhibited a peculiar streak of teamwork by playing musical instruments and working on the toy interlocking bricks.
As teenagers, they learned HTML and set up a small firm that designed websites for small enterprises. They both attended the Brunswick School for their high school studies.
Later, the siblings enrolled at Harvard University in 2000 and graduated four years later with a BA degree in economics. They were active in sports, mainly crew sport, and belonged to the university’s crew club.
Cameron and his brother got shortlisted to the USA’s 2007 Pan American Games team. The event was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They won a gold and a silver medal in two different rowing events.
The following year, they represented their country in the 2008 Olympic Games in the crew sport. They managed to reach the finals of the highly competitive event, clinching the sixth position for their country out of fourteen.
The two joined the University Of Oxford in 2009 and graduated the following year with a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
At Oxford, they earned the Blue sporting colors in crew sport. They took part in the prestigious Blue Boat annual rowing competitions on River Thames. The siblings came third overall in the 2009 Rowing World cup in Switzerland.
While at Harvard in 2002, the twins and college mate Divya Narendra shared a brilliant idea of a social platform that would connect the entire Harvard student population.
They gave it the impressive name, HarvardConnection. Their secondary goal was expanding its reach to other universities in the United States.
In 2003, they enlisted the help of programming experts Sanjay Mavinkurve and Victor Gao. Sanjay graduated from Harvard in the second quarter of the same year and left the project. He later worked for Google.
Gao was hired after his departure and gave his input on the website code, but left shortly after due to personal issues. Their dream of pioneering a social networking site hit a snag when they hired Mark Zuckerberg to replace Gao.
The enlisted developer breached the informal contract and stole their idea to launch his social networking site, Facebook, in February 2004.
However, the HarvardConnection team managed to launch their dream networking site later on May 21, 2004, under a different name, ConnectU.
Users on the platforms could make personal profiles, add friends, and communicate with them via messages. Email addresses formed the user domain in the sign-up process.
The Winklevoss and Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg was the twin’s classmate at the Harvard University in the early 2000s. At that time, the duo and Divya Narendra conceived the idea of HarvardConnection.
Before he left the HarvardConnection team, Gao advised the team to approach Mark Zuckerberg to help them in the programming work.
So far, the team had managed to code front-end pages, the enrollment system, user connection mechanism (handshake), and server coding for the HarvardConnection social network project. Moreover, they had a database in place.
In November 2003, He entered into an informal contract with the three. They expected him to complete the remaining bit of programming so that they could launch it.
He kept on postponing the completion deadlines for the task until January 11, 2004, when he registered the Facebook domain-thefacebook.com.
The HarvardConnection team was oblivious to the existence of a competing social platform until February 6, 2004, when they stumbled upon its feature in the Harvard Crimson, a student newspaper. It was two days after its launch on February 4, 2004
They complained to the Harvard administration. Larry Summers, the Harvard president, advised them to go to court since the matter was beyond the institution’s jurisdiction.
However, the three founders of the unique internet platform claimed that Zuckerberg plagiarized their idea to start the Facebook platform in February 2004.
Facebook has grown to be one of the most extensive and valuable social interaction platforms. Its current worth is beyond 250 billion USD.
The ensuing legal dispute thrust them into the limelight. After a lengthy legal tussle with Facebook, the brothers agreed to a 65 million USD settlement in February 2008. Mark paid them 20 million USD in cash. The remaining 45 million USD was settled in the form of Facebook shares.
Although they lost the legal battle to own Facebook, they invested their settlement in Bitcoin and NFT. Additionally, the stocks they owned at Facebook grew in value over time, and their collective worth is in the billions.
In the legal suit, the three accused the Facebook pioneer of going ahead and illegally using the source code meant for the ConnectU platform. They had hired a gifted programmer to help them with the coding.
Two years later, the duo threatened to undo the settlement claiming that the payment in terms of Facebook shares worth 45 million USD was undervalued. The real value of the shares was 11 million USD.
Unfortunately for them, the case didn’t make it through the appellate court, and the brothers decided to take it to the US Supreme Court in May 2010. Stunningly, they changed their minds in June 2011 and abandoned the case.
Investment in Bitcoin
Back then, Cameron confided in his brother that Bitcoin is either the next big thing or absolute bullshit. Many critics thought that investing the money they got from Facebook in Bitcoin was a total waste.
However, they’ve had the last laugh; their investment of 10 million USD in BTC back then has exponentially grown in value over the nine years due to the rise in the coin’s value.
In 2021, they featured in Forbes billionaires with a combined worth of 6 billion USD. They alleged that their Bitcoin investment came from the Facebook settlement earning in 2008.
According to New York Times, the bold investment move made them the first famous cryptocurrency millionaires in 2013.
Towards the end of last year, Tyler and Cameron held the notion that Bitcoin would rise in value 25 times due to an increase in the number of investors putting their money in BTC as an inflation hedge. They predict that the asset will give the best returns in the current decade (2020-2030). The Winklevoss Twins predicted a $500,000 Bitcoin in the future.
Bitcoin as Gold 2.0
The twins consider Bitcoin as gold 2.0. They foresee a situation whereby the former will disrupt the latter.
If BTC is to unseat gold as the global reserve currency, it must have a market cap of 9 trillion USD. Their calculation means the price of a single Bitcoin could one day hit $500,000.
At the time of their projection, the price of Bitcoin was 18,000 USD. They considered it a buying opportunity for any forward-looking investor.
The twins believe that Bitcoin needs to be better than the historical classic hedge (gold) to take its position. On a close examination, they quickly point out its strengths over Bitcoin. Unlike gold, it can move over the internet, and its supply is capped at 21 million coins.
Analysts allege that the brothers hold up to 1% of the entire supply of circulating BTC, with an estimated 120,000 coins. Early 2018, Forbes estimated their net worth as 1.1 billion USD.
— Cameron Winklevoss (@cameron) January 6, 2019
Attitude towards Bitcoin Regulation
The Winklevoss brothers, unlike many other investors, welcomed the creation of BitLicense in 2014.
However, the twins welcomed the move and spoke well of it, and helped keep the faith in Bitcoin. They harbor the feeling that Bitcoin will grow to a global currency, and there is no way it can thrive without some control measures.
However, they believed that the regulator should involve investors like them in the control process to avoid plunging cryptocurrency into a dead-end.
They felt that in the absence of proper control, the currency faces a ban. On the other hand, a stiff control would stifle the industry. Even with the regulation in New York, the twins became the first Bitcoin billionaires in 2017.
The Winklevoss’ Gemini Bitcoin Exchange
The brother investors reportedly sold some of their BTC to start the Gemini crypto exchange in 2014.
In May 2013, they invested 1.5 million USD in the BitInstant BTC exchange, but was closed before 2014 due to a scandal. It was one of the greatest at that time. Gemini is in New York and controlled by BitLicense. It allows its users to purchase, sell and keep digital assets.
The exchange currently supports more than 30 crypto coins and has an impressive trading volume of 29 billion USD in 2020.
The exchange has its own virtual currency Gemini Dollar. The currency is a stablecoin whose value mirrors that of the US dollar.
Gemini has a savings scheme for its customers, called Earn, which can hold cryptocurrencies in yield-bearing accounts. The platform offers rates of up to 7.4% per annum. However, the product is only available to its United States customers. Check out other lending platforms that are available wordwide.
Capital Management Firm
The brothers founded the Winklevoss Capital Management company in 2012. The firm invests in many types of assets and helps startups in seed funding and growth.
The firm is so far involved in 95 investments, the recent one involving BitClout last month. The venture capital firm invests in the software and commercial service fields.
Investment in NFTs
The Winklevoss brothers bought Nifty Gateway in November 2019. The platform is a marketplace for blockchain-based collectibles.
The works of art come in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It’s the most profitable platform for NFTs, due to its meticulous selection of artists.
By the end of March 2021, it made sales worth $132,000 million out of the $188,000 that the non-fungible token market has collectively generated. Cameron Winklevoss recently admitted that the platform makes 4 million USD in five minutes.
Unlike other successful cryptocurrency investors, the Winklevoss brothers live a relatively simple life without many luxuries. Cameron, for instance, drives an old SUV, whereas Tyler has no car.
The duo seems to have an investing mentality as opposed to spending. The two brothers work with the strategy -“investing and waiting.” Unlike the twins, many critics believe that BTC is a bubble and not worth placing your capital.
With their prediction that the value of Bitcoin will hit $500,000, it’s not likely that they will sell their Bitcoin anytime soon. They still believe that BTC is below its actual value, because it’s yet to reach the value of gold.
If the duo were to wait for the value of BTC to reach the value of gold, it would have a market capitalization of 7 trillion dollars. If they would sell their investment at that time, it will be worth a lot of money and significantly impact the market.