The Winklevoss twins (//) consist of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, a pair of identical twin brothers who were born on August 21, 1981. The brothers are former American rowers and are internet entrepreneurs. They competed in the men's pair rowing event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and co-founded HarvardConnection, later renamed ConnectU, with Harvard University classmate Divya Narendra. In 2008, the Winklevoss brothers settled for $65,000,000 in a case where they sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for stealing their ConnectU idea to create Facebook in 2004.
The Winklevoss twins are venture capitalists and led a seed-funding round for Bitcoin payment processor BitInstant. In April 2013, the brothers said they owned nearly 1% of all Bitcoin in existence at that time. They have Bitcoin holdings worth more than $1 billion. In 2020, the brothers' net worth was estimated at $1.8 billion USD.
Early life and education
The Winklevoss twins were born in Southampton, New York, and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. Their father is Howard Winklevoss, an adjunct professor of actuarial science at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Howard Winklevoss is the author of Pension Mathematics with Numerical Illustrations and founder of Winklevoss Consultants and Winklevoss Technologies.
The twins went to the Greenwich Country Day School before attending the Brunswick School. In their junior year, they co-founded the crew program. The Winklevoss twins enrolled at Harvard University in 2000 for undergraduate studies, majoring in economics and earning B.A. degrees in 2004. At Harvard, they were members of the men's varsity crew, the Porcellian Club and the Hasty Pudding Club.
In 2010, the Winklevoss twins completed MBA degrees in graduate business study at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. While at Oxford, the brothers were members of Christ Church and rowed in the Blue Boat in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, earning them an Oxford Blue.
Originally called HarvardConnection, ConnectU was a social networking website founded by the Winklevoss twins with Divya Narendra in December 2002. The website launched on May 21, 2004. Users on ConnectU were placed in networks based upon the domain names associated with their email addresses and could add friends, send messages and update their personal profiles.
The Winklevoss twins sued Facebook, alleging that Mark Zuckerberg briefly worked for them at ConnectU and stole part of the code from them when they were Harvard students. In February of the same year, Facebook reached a settlement of $65 million ($ 20 million in cash and over 1.2 million Facebook shares). However, the brothers continued the case, arguing that the company did not disclose its actual valuation.
In early June, a ConnectU attorney claimed to have incriminating evidence against Facebook but did not submit it. Judge Woodlock dismissed the allegations, saying it was a "buyer's remorse" case. In late June 2008, the judge for the Federal District Court in San Jose, California, again rejected the twins' allegations, which did not discourage them to continue the litigation. In January 2011, Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit closed the case, claiming that the twins were seeking ''"to gain through litigation what they were unable to achieve in the marketplace."''
In 2009, the Winklevoss brothers were themselves sued by entrepreneur Wayne Chang who said the brothers "merged their company, ConnectU, with Chang's Web development business to create a new company, The Winklevoss Chang Group (WCG) ... though the Winklevosses 'expressly agreed that the litigation between ConnectU and Facebook was an asset of ConnectU and an asset of WCG', he [Chang] never got any of the millions of dollars the Winklevoss brothers got when they sold ConnectU to Facebook as part of their settlement with Mark Zuckerberg." Chang's lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.
The Winklevoss twins' company, Math-Based Asset Services LLC, filed to register a Bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund called Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust in 2013. The fund was denied in March 2017.
In 2013, the twins led an investment round of seed funding for BitInstant, a Bitcoin payment processor, and raised $1.5 million. In January 2014, Charlie Shrem, CEO of BitInstant, was charged with money laundering related to the Silk Road online black market investigation. The Winklevoss brothers said they were passive investors in the company.
On January 23, 2014, the twins announced the launch of Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange.
In 2014, the twins launched Winkdex, a financial index that tracks the price of Bitcoin.The Winkdex uses data from seven exchanges and weights the prices on the volume of trading on each exchange.
In March 2014, it was announced that the twins had purchased seats on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic shuttle using the profits they had made from Bitcoin.
In popular culture
The Winklevoss twins are played by actor Armie Hammer in The Social Network (2010), a film directed by David Fincher about the founding of Facebook. Actor Josh Pence was the body double for Tyler Winklevoss with Hammer's face superimposed.
In an episode of The Simpsons, "The D'oh-cial Network", Patty and Selma take part in the Olympic rowing, and race against the Winklevoss twins who are voiced by Armie Hammer.
The brothers appear in the Family Guy episode "The Giggity Wife" when Joe, Peter and Quagmire use a confiscated Harvard student card to eat in the esteemed Harvard dining hall. The Winklevoss brothers made a cameo appearance in one episode of Silicon Valley and appeared in cameo in Ocean's 8.
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