The Winklevoss twins (born August 21, 1981; also humorously referred to as the Winklevi or Winklevii) are American rowers and Internet entrepreneurs, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss. They competed in the men's pair rowing event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They are known for co-founding HarvardConnection (later renamed ConnectU) along with Harvard University classmate Divya Narendra. In 2004, the Winklevoss brothers sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, claiming he stole their ConnectU idea to create the popular social networking site, and ultimately received $65 million.
They are now venture capitalists, and have led a seed funding round for bitcoin payment processor BitInstant. In April 2013, the brothers claimed they owned nearly 1% of all bitcoin in existence at the time.
Early life and education
The Winklevoss twins were born in Southampton, New York, and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. Their father is Howard Edward Winklevoss, Jr.; Howard was an adjunct professor of actuarial science at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Pension Mathematics with Numerical Illustrations, and founder of Winklevoss Consultants and Winklevoss Technologies.
The twins went to the Greenwich Country Day School before attending the Brunswick School for high school. They showed a fondness for the classics in high school, studying Latin and Ancient Greek. During their junior year, they co-founded the crew program. They enrolled at Harvard University in 2000 for their undergraduate studies where they majored in economics, earning B.A. degrees and graduating in 2004. At Harvard, they were members of the men's varsity crew, the Porcellian Club and the Hasty Pudding Club.
In 2009, they began graduate business study at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and completed MBA degrees in 2010. While at Oxford, the brothers were members of Christ Church, and rowed in the Blue Boat in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race earning them an Oxford Blue.
ConnectU (originally HarvardConnection) was a social networking website launched on May 21, 2004, that was founded by Harvard students Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra in December 2002. Users could add people as friends, send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Users were placed in networks based upon the domain name associated with the email address they used for registration.
In 2013, the twins led a $1.5 million in seed funding of BitInstant, a bitcoin payment processor. However, in January 2014, Charlie Shrem, CEO of BitInstant, was arrested and charged with money laundering related to the Silk Road online black market investigation. The brothers said they were passive investors in the company.
In 2014, the twins launched Winkdex, a financial index that tracks the price of bitcoin.
In October 2015, Gemini, the twins' Bitcoin exchange, received approval to launch from the New York State Department of Financial Services. The exchange is targeted at both first-time users and professional traders.
Both twins are played by actor Armie Hammer in The Social Network (2010), a film directed by David Fincher about the founding of Facebook. Actor Josh Pence was the body double for Tyler with Hammer's face superimposed. In an episode of The Simpsons, "The D'oh-cial Network", Patty and Selma take part in the Olympic rowing, and race against the Winklevoss twins, who are voiced by Armie Hammer. They appear in the Family Guy episode "The Giggity Wife" when Joe, Peter, and Quagmire use a confiscated Harvard student card to eat in the esteemed Harvard dining hall.