Who are they? What are they well known for?
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are widely known as the Winklevoss Twins (or the Winklevoss Brothers). The pair of 6.5” foot tall entrepreneurs are most notably known (and perhaps sadly so) for their legal disputes with Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook – it’s their contention, that Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook, which is now a multi-billion dollar company. They were awarded over $65 Million in 2008, as a result of their legal dispute ($20 million in cash and $45 million in Facebook stocks – which are worth far more today). However, after coming to the conclusion that Facebook had hid information from them, they had decided to ask for more in a higher court, but decided to drop the charges of fraud from facebook for no stated reason.
Their popularity was made widespread in the movie: “The Social Network”, which they feel didn’t portray them or the situation between them and their Harvard contemporary (Zuckerberg) very accurately. The Winklevii, as they are also known, say they aren’t pursuing fame, but that it doesn’t hurt when they’re building startups.
What’s in the spotlight?
One of the most talked about subjects as of recently involving the Winklevii, has been their plans to launch a Bitcoin exchange tracker fund (ETF), which the the US Securities and Exchange Commission recently rejected. This was brought about right on the verge of hot debate on whether or not Bitcoin will make a hard fork.
Had the Bitcoin ETF succeeded, it would have made it possible for traders to buy and sell Bitcoins without needing to set up a personal Bitcoin Wallet. Traders would be able to invest in the value of Bitcoin, without owning any Bitcoin themselves. It was speculated that approval of this proposal could have seen Bitcoin’s price double. However, SEC (Security Exchange Commission), decided that the unregulated nature of the Bitcoin market, would have made a Bitcoin ETF extremely hard to monitor, and would be a good environment for fraud to take place. The Winklevii agreed with the decision, on the basis of regulation and oversight being extremely important for the health of a marketplace and the safety of investors.
However, the Winklevoss Twins’ ETF was only one of three proposals, and for a month Bitcoin rallied by 30% in hopes that SEC would accept at least one. However, the day the decision to reject the Winklevoss’ ETF proposal was made, Bitcoin’s price dropped by over 16%, and later had moved to about a 14% drop (that was $192 dollars at $1,000 per Bitcoin). The price since then has come back up.
Family Background & Education:
The Winklevoss brothers grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and were born to wealthy entrepreneurs. The family was not always so financially set though. Their parents went to Grove City College in Western Pennsylvania, a Christian liberal arts school, and have been married for 45 years. One of their grandfathers was a garage owner, while the other was a policeman. Their great-grandfather mined coal, etc.
The twins upbringing wasn’t like the average family. In a quote found in an article by nyttimes.com:
“Dad was a pure entrepreneur,” Tyler said. “The dinner conversations weren’t like, ‘Did the Yankees win today?’ Cameron and I would be reading business magazines and talking about guys like Bill Gates.”
The Winklevii agree that they were born into privilege, but that they worked hard to be where they are today.
Both of these identical twins were accepted into Harvard University, where they stayed all 4 of their college years. They also spent a year at the University of Oxford studying business from 2009 – 2010.
Other life accomplishments:
Anyone looking into the Winklevoss Twins will find it hard to avoid reading about their love of college and olympic professional rowing. Most notably, they rowed for the USA in the Beijing Olympics, which was held in 2008. Although they lost the race, it is still a great honor to have participated. They were the US’ first celebrity athletes, however, they decided not to try out for the London Olympic games in 2012, and decided to pursue other interests. They had been rowing in San Diego’s Olympic Training Camp up until the end of 2011.
At the age of 14, still in high school, the twins started rowing and joined their school’s rowing club. They also rowed for 4 years at Harvard. In 2004, they led their crew to first place in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Regatta, the national championship for men. When they started studying at Oxford, they again found a way to row, with Oxford’s Varsity Eight.
Hard to say if this is a life accomplishment, but back in 2013, it was said that the Winklevii owned 1% of all the Bitcoins in circulation at that time, which would have been around 108,000 Bitcoins. And according to this post by the Guardian, this was either around the time that Bitcoin peaked at $260 per Bitcoin… or before. Even just at the end of 2013, Bitcoins rose to over $1,140.00 per Bitcoin! And as of recently, the price was even higher!
The twins also studied and played piano for 12 years, starting at the ages of 6. And they studied Latin and Ancient Greek during their high school years.
What’s their plans for the future?
Currently, the Winklevii are venture capitalists, having began a company called Winklevoss Capital, which provides capital funds for startups and entrepreneurs. Among the companies that they’ve helped fund, there’s a company called Hukkster, which is an online shopping website, as well as a financial data and dish company called SumZero.
They certainly are opportunists, and we look forward to seeing what else the Winklevoss Twins bring to the table in the future.