How Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss Became Bitcoin Billionaires

It’s 2002. It’s a cold December day when Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss and their girlfriend Divya Narendra come up with an idea that will change their lives forever. The students at the renowned elite university Harvard want to develop a website through which fellow students can interact socially. It occurs Harvard connection.

A year later, the main developer in charge leaves the project, but the three have already turned their attention to a successor. A little boy with a little reddish hair and freckles adorning his pale face.

In November 2003, there will be a first meeting. The boy introduces himself as Mark Zuckerberg. The trio explains to the 19-year-old how HarvardConnection works, introduces him to expansion plans for other universities and always emphasizes the importance of being “first to market”. Zuckerberg must prepare the website for launch. He agrees.

Lawsuits with Facebook

But instead of working on the completion of the social platform, as promised, Zuckerberg is programming a competing product and likely also using the source code from HarvardConnection. He postpones Winklevoss’ inquiries. January 11, 2004 reports today Meta CEO domain for his network – The site launches on February 4 and hits like a bomb.

Tyler and Cameron initiate a lawsuit that will later make them world famous. Zuckerberg brazenly copied their idea and used illegal source code that was originally intended for the site he was hired to create.

In February 2008, a settlement was reached in an office tower in the San Francisco financial district. Then the brothers are richer with $ 20 million in cash and $ 45 million in Facebook shares.

The road to becoming a bitcoin billionaire

With the capital from the settlement, the Winklevoss twins set up Winklevoss Capital Management in 2012. Through the family office, siblings invest in various start-ups in the tech industry. Around that time, a technical innovation of a different kind attracted attention – Bitcoin. A friend’s acquaintance made her aware of the cryptocurrency.

We talked about digital currencies while on vacation. When we got home, the acquaintance sent us some material about Bitcoin. I looked at Tyler and said, ‘Either this is all a hoax, or we have something really big here.’

Cameron Winklevoss

The brothers deal intensively with the cryptocurrency. They quickly become convinced of the potential and willing to invest. In 2013, the twins pumped $ 11 million into Bitcoin, at the time: about $ 120. In an interview in June of that year, they claim to own about 1 percent of the total amount in circulation – the equivalent of today: $ 6.35 billion.

But it does not stop with the investment alone. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss want to be pioneers in space and are focused on building an ecosystem that will open up both institutional and retail investors to cryptocurrencies. They laid the cornerstone in 2015 twin (in German: twin). The first cryptocurrency exchange regulated and licensed by the State of New York. The exchange platform is now a famous address within the crypto scene.

Winklevoss vs Zuckerberg

In recent years, however, an old conflict has threatened to flare up again. In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg took the stage and announced the creation of his own virtual parallel world – Metaverse. By the end of the year, Meta (formerly Facebook) will invest $ 10 billion.

Tyler and Cameron respond a month later. Following a round of funding, Gemini is raising $ 400 million. The Winklevoss twins announce that they will spend all their capital on creating their own digital space.

It’s the next chapter not yet written in the epic competition between Zuckerberg and Winklevoss. While Meta strives for a centralized solution, Gemini relies on a decentralized approach. With Nifty Gateway, the expertise for this is under the umbrella of the crypto exchange. In addition, they are collaborating with the Metaverse game The Sandbox and bought several plots there in April 2021. It remains to be seen who will ultimately win the battle for Metaverse.

Other than that, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss enjoy rock star status on stage. Betrayal by Mark Zuckerberg caused the twins to fall low, bitcoin brought them back. The Facebook millions paired with the right flair for digital trends immortalized siblings in the annals of crypto history books as the world’s first known Bitcoin billionaires.


The article has been editorially revised and first appeared in the January issue of BTC-ECHO Magazine. More information can be found here.

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BTC-ECHO Magazine is the leading German-language magazine since 2014 on the topics of Bitcoin, Blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrencies.

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