Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have long been known for their legal battle with Mark Zuckerberg over who invented Facebook. That was over a decade ago. Today they have made names for themselves as entrepreneurs in cryptocurrency with a company called Gemini.
“Facebook was a dispute, but it didn’t really define who we were as people,” Tyler Winklevoss told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in an interview for the Boss Files podcast. “Gemini’s much more of a representation of who we are, what we stand for, what we’re interested in.”
But it was hard to ignore their history with Zuckerberg when Facebook announced plans to enter the world of crypto with Libra, a digital coin that just so happens to also be named after a zodiac sign. So, are Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins at it again?
The brothers don’t see it that way. In fact, they’re looking to potentially partner with Facebook (FB) on Libra. Whether or not they do decide to team up with their old rival, the Winklevoss brothers say Libra is a good thing for the industry and a step toward a time when cryptocurrency is ubiquitous.
“I think there is a day in the future where we can’t live without crypto, or imagine a world before crypto,” Cameron Winklevoss said.
The brothers bought into that vision in the early days of bitcoin, when it was worth around $8, after cashing out some of the wealth they’d earned in Facebook stock from their settlement with Zuckerberg. The value of bitcoin peaked at $20,000 in 2017, and now hovers around $10,000.
It was a bold bet to make on an investment opportunity the brothers first learned about from a guy on an Ibiza beach after “some tequila.” But it paid off for the Winklevoss twins, making them, at least for a time, “bitcoin billionaires.” (That also happens to be the title of the book about their lives.)
With those returns, the brothers started Gemini in 2014.
Gemini allows people to buy, trade and store digital assets — or cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies have traditionally been decentralized and largely unregulated. The Winklevoss brothers pitched Gemini as a platform people could trust. So they sought and received licenses in New York state as a so-called trust company, similar to many traditional financial institutions, and as a virtual currency exchange.
“We often say trust is our product,” Cameron Winklevoss said. “And we’re trying to basically build a safe and easy way for that person in the Midwest, if they want to buy a piece of crypto, to do it, just like they do at their brokerage account, just like a share of Apple or a share of Amazon.”
Gemini is now available in 49 states and Washington, DC, as well as in the United Kingdom, Singapore and several other countries, and it’s seeking regulatory approval in other areas around the world. While the company does not publicly share user numbers or revenue, its staff has grown to more than 200 people working out of offices in New York, Portland and Chicago.