The Winklevii—or Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, to use their given names—first rose to fame in the mid-2000s when they sued Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, claiming he had stolen their idea for Facebook when they studied together at Harvard. The 6-foot-5 brothers’ story was eventually detailed in the 2010 film The Social Network, including the part where Zuckerberg paid them millions to walk away.
Rowing fans might recognize the Winklevii from their sixth place finish in men’s pairs rowing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, too, but in recent years, the brothers have been in the news for an entirely new reason: cryptocurrencies. The early Bitcoin adopters tapped into the digital asset boom of the early 2010s before launching a crypto exchange, Gemini, in 2014.
BEIJING – AUGUST 09: Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss of the USA compete in the Men’s Pair Heat 1 at Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park during Day 1 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 9, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
By late 2021, Gemini was on fire and crypto prices were soaring to new record highs each day, leaving the identical twins with a combined net worth of over $7 billion. Industry analysts claimed that the party was just getting started, but after the Crypto Winter wiped out more than $2 trillion in value from the fledgling industry, the worm has turned for the Winklevii.
Now, lawsuits are pending and the brothers are engaged in a very public battle with their former friend, the crypto billionaire Barry Silbert, over what will happen to the frozen funds of more than 340,000 users of Gemini’s Earn platform.
The Facebook saga leads to early adoption
Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have been affected by Gemini’s recent issues, and none of it would have been possible without Facebook.
In the early 2000s, Cameron and Tyler had moved from their privileged upbringing in Greenwich, Conn.—their father is Howard Winklevoss, former professor of actuarial science at the University of Pennsylvania’s legendary Wharton business school—and…