Profiles of the Blockchain Industry: Winklevoss Twins
The Profiles of the blockchain industry series examines pioneers and leaders of the blockchain industry, with the hope of inspiring you to find your place in this nascent realm. It’s a world that is full of potential and is leaping forward through the innovations of key figures. What is your role in this new frontier? The possibilities are infinite.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
Best known for successfully suing Mark Zuckerberg for his theft of their social network idea, and thereby becoming $65 million richer, the Winklevoss twins have enjoyed uncommonly astonishing success in their careers. After graduating from Harvard and launching a family office, the duo became the first Bitcoin billionaires. Their early Bitcoin investment and development of multiple crypto-related ventures has made them relevant pioneers and influencers in the industry.
Early Years and Bitcoin investments
Born on August 21, 1981, in Southampton, New York, the identical twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss showcased their entrepreneurial skills and ambitions at a very young age. They created a rowing team in their high school, Brunswick, which is to this day still in existence.
The twins started their outstanding careers in rowing and soon began competing in major national tournaments around the country, winning most competitions. At Harvard, they maintained their continuous winning streak and won the national championships in 2003 and 2004.
At the peak of their rowing careers, they were invited to attend the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as a rowing pair, ultimately placing sixth out of 14 nations competing in the event. They continued rowing at Oxford University where they completed their MBA degrees in 2010.
The twins are best known for their dramatic involvement with the Facebook social network platform. While studying at Harvard, the brothers worked together with Divya Narendra to launch an application called the Harvard Connection, which was later referred to as ConnectU. On this platform, Harvard students would be able to connect with each other and send and receive messages.
Mark Zuckerberg joined their team in 2003 to work on the coding processes. After hearing about their idea, Zuckerberg began behaving suspiciously, oftentimes not responding to the ConnectU team for weeks. In January 2004, Zuckerberg registered the domain name thefacebook.com without informing the Winklevoss twins. As a result, ConnectU filed a lawsuit against Facebook for breaching an oral agreement and stealing their idea.
Subsequently, the twins were awarded a settlement of $65 million. In 2013, they decided to invest $11 million out of the cash settlement into Bitcoin which, at the time, was trading at $120 per coin. This investment has since made them the first Bitcoin billionaires. In addition to their large Bitcoin investment, the twins have thus far invested over $350 million into other cryptocurrencies, mainly Ethereum, founded by Vitalik Buterin.
Gemini Trust Company
The Winklevoss brothers founded the Gemini digital currency exchange in 2014, which now stands among the top cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Approved in 2016, Gemini was the first licensed Ethereum exchange. Today, clients can actively trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, Zcash, and Litecoin.
In an effort to further regulatory compliance, Gemini hired NASDAQ to control the trading venue and to combat market abuse. In September 2018, Gemini received approval to launch the Gemini dollar (GUSD), a stablecoin which pegs the US Dollar 1 to 1, built on the Ethereum network. GUSD is said to be the first “regulated” stablecoin. Thus, the Winklevoss twins are attempting to tackle a common dilemma when it comes to stablecoins failing to provide proper creditworthiness and regulatory transparency.
On October 3rd, it was announced that all tokens and coins held on the Gemini exchange would be insured. This is another positive step forward for the crypto-sphere, providing clients a greater degree of stability, safety, and trust.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are known for their high-risk investment strategy. However, as their track record shows, these investments have been exceedingly successful. They are firm believers that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology will continue to grow and take on an essential role in the economy. Bitcoin, they insist, is here to stay. As Tyler Winklevoss once said; “To shut down Bitcoin is to shut down the Internet.”