Will the Winklevoss Twins Get the Last Laugh?

April 8, 2021

The Social Network, the movie depicting the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook and the simultaneous demise of the Winklevoss twins seems to be up for a sequel.

Chances are the sequel will turn the tables on the plot with the twins taking the day.

Yes, life is stranger than fiction with the fate of the social internet as the big prize.

What’s the story?
The twins got $65M from the Facebook settlement and made the wise decision to take most of it in stock, which they held and turned into a $500M fortune. 

But that wasn’t enough – they invested in a number of Bitcoin and blockchain-related ventures and amassed a massive $6B+ fortune:

Gemini Exchange.  This is a crypto exchange like Coinbase but smaller that trades 33 crypto assets that the Winklevosses started and is now worth around $5B per Forbes.

Protocol Labs.  Another precocious investment, this is an open source R&D lab that has created Filecoin and IPFS which underlies the data behind most NFTs.

BlockFi.  The twins backed this decentralized crypto lending firm in their Series C investment which also has backing from Peter Thiel.

Recent bets: 

  • Nifty Gateway. The twins acquired this NFT art marketplace in 2019 from…another set of twins – Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster.  For real.  This is the marketplace that helped Beeple’s rise to prominence which obviously culminated in his $69M payday with Christie’s.  Reports peg the valuation of Nifty Gateway as high as $1.2B.
  • BitClout. We recently wrote about this controversial but innovative decentralized social network – it’s a new investment from the twins and could be the opening volley in the war to take down Facebook’s dominance.

The future
Selling ads based on information harvested from users, ie. turning the user into the product, doesn’t seem like a business model that people want to see as sustainable for the long haul.  Of course, that’s the status quo, but if we know anything, it’s that change is the only real constant.

“The idea of a centralized social network is just not going to exist five or 10 years in the future,” ­ – Tyler Winklevoss as quoted by Forbes.

If that’s the case, the twins may be on to something even bigger than FB and Zuck.

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