Winklevoss Twins

Who are the Winklevoss Twins?

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, famously known as the Winklevoss twins, are American cryptocurrency investors and founders of the renowned Gemini cryptocurrency exchange.

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Besides running a trading platform, the identical twins also oversee a venture capital (VC) firm called Winklevoss Capital Management.

The twins share a strong bond and equally divide their responsibilities of running the Gemini exchange. Cameron serves as the President, while Tyler holds the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position.

Gemini is one of the top 20 largest cryptocurrency exchanges by daily trading volume. The exchange offers a plethora of cryptocurrencies, including, among others, well-known bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), ripple (XRP), and cardano (ADA).

The Winklevoss twins first gained public notoriety through a high-profile legal dispute with Mark Zuckerberg, the current CEO of Meta Group (formerly Facebook).

However, they have since charted their path in the fintech industry, making substantial contributions almost two decades after their legal case was resolved.

Winklevoss Twins’s Net Worth

The Winklevoss brothers have accumulated a substantial fortune in the cryptocurrency industry.

Tyler and Cameron boast a net worth of $1.4 billion and hold the positions of 2046 and 2047, respectively, on Forbes’ Billionaires List.

Education and Personal Life

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss were born on August 21, 1981, in Southampton, New York, United States. They were raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, by their parents, Carol and Howard Edward Winklevoss Jr.

From a young age, the Winklevoss twins shared an inseparable bond and often collaborated on various projects.

  • At the age of 13, they ventured into learning Higher Text Markup Language (HTML) and founded a web page company, helping local businesses establish their online presence through website development.
  • Their educational journey took them through the Greenwich Country Day School and Brunswick School for high school.
  • Alongside their academic pursuits, both twins displayed a strong passion for classical music and studied it for 12 years, beginning at the tender age of 6.
  • They also explored Latin and Ancient Greek languages during their high school years. This interest in classical subjects eventually led to their involvement in founding the crew program in their junior high.
  • For their college education, they enrolled at Harvard University in 2000, graduating with degrees in Economics in 2004. During their time at Harvard, the twins faced a tragic loss when their sister, Amanda Winklevoss, passed away in 2002 due to an undisclosed illness.
  • They also attended the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and obtained an MBA in 2010.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are not married. They keep their relationships private and away from the media.

They are avid rowers and were part of the U.S. team in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

ConnectU Story

During their college years, the Winklevoss twins were famously inseparable and known for their collaborative ventures. Their strong bond inspired them to create a platform to enhance connections among their fellow students.

This vision led to the launch of their first social media prototype, originally called HarvardConnection, but later rebranded as ConnectU.

  • In December 2002, the twins co-founded ConnectU alongside their classmate Divya Narendra. However, their ambition extended beyond merely connecting Harvard students; they aspired to unite students from various colleges.
  • ConnectU rapidly gained popularity due to its innovative feature known as ‘Club.’ This feature allowed students to join specific social clubs tailored to their interests.
  • In January 2003, the Winklevoss twins enlisted the assistance of fellow Harvard student and programmer Sanjay Marvinkurve to build out the framework of the social media network.
  • However, Marvinkurve stopped working on the project in the spring of 2003 after his graduation and subsequent employment by Google.
  • After his departure, Victor Gao took on the responsibility of developing the social media platform. Gao opted not to become a partner but requested compensation for his work. He was eventually paid $400 for developing the website code but soon after left the ConnectU team for personal reasons.

Legal Tussle With Zuckerberg

Before his departure, Gao referred Mark Zuckerberg – a fellow Harvard student – to the Winklevoss twins and Narendra in November 2003.

Shortly after that, Zuckerberg became part of the ConnectU team and assumed responsibility for programming tasks previously handled by Gao. He worked on the ConnectU website from November 2003 to early February 2004, when he created Facebook.

This development led to a legal dispute between the Winklevoss twins and Zuckerberg. The twins alleged that he had violated an oral agreement and stolen their intellectual property.

According to them, he copied their original concept and used their website’s source code to build Facebook.

Prior to the commencement of the lawsuit, the Winklevoss twins partnered with i2hub founder Wayne Chang to launch the Social Butterfly feature in the ConnectU service.

In the heat of the legal tussle, Zuckerberg countered with a suit of his own against Social Butterfly – a social project created by the Winklevoss Chang Group to enable users to consolidate their accounts across various social media networks.

However, both lawsuits were subsequently settled out of court, and the Winklevoss twins walked away from the case after being paid $25 million in cash and $40 million in pre-IPO shares in Facebook.

Although subsequent lawsuits were filed against Zuckerberg and Facebook by the twins, they were ultimately dismissed over time.

Life After Facebook Lawsuit

Following the Facebook lawsuit, the Winklevoss twins faced another legal challenge, this time from Quinn Emanuel, a legal firm representing ConnectU.

The firm demanded $13 million from the $65 million settlement the twins received from the Facebook case.

However, the twins argued that the legal firm had engaged in malpractice by publicly disclosing the settlement figure in their marketing materials, thus breaching confidentiality. The court ruled in favor of both parties.

On August 25, 2010, the Winklevoss Twins were informed that they were not obliged to pay the $13 million fee demanded by the legal firm, and Quinn Emanuel was cleared of the malpractice charge.

Prior to this, the Winklevoss Twins ventured into the online space by co-founding ‘Guest of a Guest’ in 2008, a website dedicated to nightlife in cities like NYC, Los Angeles, and Washington, among others.

Eventually, they sold their stake in the company, and co-founder Rachelle Hruska assumed control of the platform in 2012.

Winklevoss Crypto Issues

As interest in cryptocurrencies surged, the Winklevoss twins turned their attention to the crypto landscape. It is believed that they acquired a substantial amount of BTC, reportedly 70,000 bitcoins, in its early days.

In 2014, they co-founded the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange in New York and have actively managed the platform.

While the exchange has achieved widespread recognition as an international brand, it has encountered its share of challenges.

One significant setback occurred in May 2022 with the collapse of the Terra blockchain, which triggered a broader crypto market crash. This downturn resulted in substantial losses for investors, amounting to billions of dollars.

Among the most affected were platforms like Gemini, particularly its ‘Earn’ program. Gemini Earn enabled users to earn interest on idle cryptocurrencies, functioning like a savings account for digital assets.

Deposits from this program were entrusted to the Digital Currency Group (DCG) for trading purposes. However, the shock impact made it impossible for DCG to return all the funds when needed.

The crypto exchange could only retrieve $282 million out of the $300 million plus entrusted to them. As a result, Gemini Earn was discontinued.

Gemini also had a run-in with U.S. regulators in 2022, but no legal lawsuit has been filed against the enterprising twins.

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Jimmy Aki
Crypto & Blockchain Writer

A graduate of the University of Virginia, Jimmy previously worked for BeInCrypto, Bitcoin Magazine, Decrypt, Cryptonews and other major publications. Alongside writing for Techopedia, Jimmy is also a trained economist, accountant and blockchain instructor with hands-on work experience in the financial sector.