Zuckerberg’s Twin Rivals Become First to Make a Billion From Bitcoin

By James Burke

The Winklevoss brothers, the identical twins who sued Mark Zuckerberg over claims that he stole their Facebook idea have become the first bitcoin billionaires.

And Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss probably also have, in part, Zuckerberg to thank for that as well.

The two 36-year-olds invested $10 million into the controversial cryptocurrency from the $65 million settlement they received from Facebook in 2009, news.com.au reported.

Using that money, the brothers purportedly bought 1 percent of all bitcoin that was in circulation in 2013.

Five years on, the digital currency has upped in value by just under 10,000 percent, turning them into billionaires. It is thought to be the first billion-dollar return for a cryptocurrency investor.

“We see bitcoin as potentially the greatest social network of all,” Tyler said in an interview with the Financial Times last year. He went on to say that the digital economy has needed a currency made especially for online value trading.

The Winklevoss brothers first heard about bitcoin in 2012 while on holiday in Spain and within three years they had set up a bitcoin exchange, the first licensed operation of its type for buying and selling the digital currency in the U.S.

“We wanted to build an exchange that was similar to Nasdaq or NYSE for digital currency,” said Tyler. “We wanted something that both Wall Street and Main Street felt comfortable with.”

Since being created in 2008 bitcoin has had its ups and downs but its value has soared to great heights in recent months. This has not silenced its critics such as the CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Jamie Dimon who said he would fire any employee trading bitcoin for being “stupid,” reported Bloomberg.

The crypto-currency that is not backed by any central bank or government oversight is a good option for “murders and drug dealers,” he said.

Dimon compared bitcoin to the tulip mania of the 17th century and predicted it would soon crash. A stance that presumably the Winklevoss brothers would publicly disagree on.

“I remember when people said Facebook was a fad,” Tyler said in the interview with the Financial Times. “We saw this movie play out already with Facebook. We feel like we’re in the same movie again, just with a different cast of characters.”

The brothers were both played by actor Armie Hammer in the Academy Award winning 2010 film “The Social Network” about their battle with Zuckerberg over Facebook.

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