Are the Winklevoss Twins Trying to Corner the Bitcoin Market?

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Is this the kiss of death for the bitcoin market? The Winklevoss twins, last seen losing court battles with Facebook, own nearly 1 percent of all bitcoins in circulation, according to the New York Times.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, or the Winklevii, own what the Times described as “one of the single largest portfolios of the online currency.” The state of the bitcoin market has been tough to pin down in recent days, but the Times put the 31-year-old identical twins’ bitcoin holdings at about $11 million as of Thursday, a couple of ticks below 1 percent of the $1.3 billion total market for bitcoins.

How well that investment holds up is anyone’s guess at this point. The bitcoin market, dubbed a bubble by many, has been on a roller coaster this week, with bitcoins trading as high as $266 a few days ago but crashing to as low as $60 on Thursday.

Classic signs of a bubble bursting? Bitcoin proponents aren’t having it. They’ve taken to calling the past week’s tumult a mere “course correction” for an alternative currency they maintain has the power to shake up the global economy. Some have blamed the boom-and-bust cycle the market appears to be going through on a rush by speculators and other market meddlers.

That’s a description that would appear to fit the Winklevii, but the twins talk more like true believers.

“People say it’s a Ponzi scheme, it’s a bubble. People really don’t want to take it seriously. At some point that narrative will shift to ‘virtual currencies are here to stay.’ We’re in the early days,” Cameron Winklevoss told the Times.

The twins are best known for their repeated and failed attempts with another partner, Divya Narendra, to claim ownership of Facebook, which was created by Mark Zuckerberg and others at Harvard around the same time the Winklevosses were building their own, now defunct social-networking platform, ConnectU.

That’s not their only claim to fame. As rowers, the twins competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, finishing sixth in the men’s pairs event. The Winklevii were portrayed by Arnie Hammer in the film The Social Network. They’ve also appeared as characters in an episode of the The Simpsons parodying social media and in an ad for Wonderful Pistachios that alludes to having an idea “stolen,” a jab at Zuckerberg.

The irony of it all is that in their court-ordered settlement with Zuckerberg and Facebook, the twins settled for $65 million in cash and a small stake in the company, which could now be worth hundreds of millions following Facebook’s 2012 IPO.

Now calling themselves Internet entrepreneurs, the twins have been investing those funds in a variety of projects, including a social-networking startup called SumZero. Plus, they have a whole bunch of bitcoins.

By Damon Poeter, PCMag


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