What would you do if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg cashed you out for a cool $65 million? Pay off your crushing student loan debt? Throw some money on blue chip stocks and let it grow? Maybe buy your own island?
The Winklevoss Twins — made famous by Armie Hammer’s portrayal in the 2010 film “The Social Network” — decided to go a different route: They loaded up on bitcoin. And their bet is paying off in a big way.
With the value of bitcoin, the grandaddy cryptocurrency, jumping from about $1,000 at the beginning of the year to more than $16,000 per coin on Wednesday, the “Winklevii” have seen their coffers swell to more than $1 billion. They don’t plan on jumping ship anytime soon, either, according to a new profile in the New York Times.
“We still think it is probably one of the best investments in the world and will be for the decades to come,” Tyler Winklevoss told the paper. “And if it’s not, we’d rather live with disappointment than regret.”
The twins can afford to take the risk: After suing Zuckerberg, claiming he stole the idea for Facebook from them while students at Harvard, the Winklevii settled in 2011 for $20 million in cash and $45 million worth of stock at a $15 billion valuation. (Facebook’s market cap has since ballooned to more than $515 billion.)
The 36-year-old twin bros started investing in bitcoin in late 2012, when a single coin cost about $10, according to the Times. Altogether, they stacked up about 120,000 bitcoins, and despite several price crashes in the meantime — including the infamous $460 million hack of Mt. Gox in 2014, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange at the time — the Winklevosses have sold “almost none” of their investment.
“We are very comfortable in very high-risk environments with absolutely no guarantee of success,” Tyler Winklevoss told the Times. “I don’t mean existing in that environment for days, weeks or months. I mean year after year.”
The power twins have since launched Gemini, an online exchange to buy and sell bitcoin and other digital currencies. (And yes, Gemini translates to “twins” in Latin.)
6 Tech Giants Shaking Up News, From Jeff Bezos to Laurene Powell Jobs (Photos)
Tech leaders are increasingly intertwined with the news business. While some want to support old properties, one set out to destroy a new one. Here they are.
Jeff Bezos – Washington Post
The Amazon founder purchased the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million in cash. President Trump has called the paper the “Amazon Washington Post.”
The Facebook co-founder purchased The New Republic in 2012, becoming executive chairman and publisher. However, he sold the venerable political magazine to Win McCormack in 2016, saying he "underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate."
The eBay founder is a well-known philanthropist who created First Look Media, a journalism venture behind The Intercept. Inspired by Edward Snowden's leaks. Omidyar teamed up with journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras to launch the website “dedicated to the kind of reporting those disclosures required: fearless, adversarial journalism.”
The PayPal co-founder doesn’t own a news organization, but he makes this list because he essentially ended one -- Gawker -- proving once again the power of an angry billionaire. Thiel secretly bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s sex-tape lawsuit against Gawker Media because he was upset that the website once outed him as gay. Hogan won the defamation lawsuit against the site that sent its parent company into bankruptcy, and Gawker.com is no longer operating.
OK, so Facebook isn’t technically a news organization… yet. However, the company is preparing to launch its much-anticipated lineup of original content later this summer, and there are also signs that it's on the verge of becoming an even bigger media platform.
Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, confirmed last week it’s developing a subscription service for publishers willing to post articles directly to Facebook Instant Articles, rather than their native websites.