Born in Southampton, New York, identical twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are longtime cryptocurrency investors and the co-founders of Gemini, an exchange that gives users the ability to buy, sell, and store digital assets.
Founded in 2014, the Gemini Trust Company is regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services and in 2016, became the first licensed ether exchange. In 2018, Gemini launched the Gemini dollar, a dollar-backed stablecoin built on Ethereum.
The Winklevoss brothers, sometimes referred to as the “Winklevii,” were early investors in the crypto industry and invested in now-defunct exchange BitInstant. They also notably enlisted the exchange’s founder, Charlie Shrem, as their investment adviser and later alleged in a 2018 lawsuit that Shrem stole $32 million worth of bitcoin from them. The brothers claimed they gave Shrem a million dollars in 2012 to buy bitcoin on their behalf, but that Shrem had not purchased the full amount with the allotted funds. The lawsuit was settled in 2019 under confidential terms.
The Winklevoss brothers have also won several crypto-related U.S. patents, including a 2018 patent for the creation of exchange-traded products related to cryptocurrencies, including exchange traded funds (ETF). The brothers have sought approval from the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to list a bitcoin ETF since 2014.
Beyond the crypto industry, the Winklevoss brothers are best known for their dispute with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. While they were students at Harvard University, the brothers started ConnectU, a social network that allowed students to create a profile, add friends, and send messages. In 2004, ConnectU filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming that Mark Zuckerberg had violated a verbal contract and stolen their intellectual property. Zuckerberg was a fellow classmate of Winklevoss twins, and had briefly worked on ConnectU as a programmer. Zuckerberg launched a similarly designed platform known as thefacebook.com which would later become Facebook. A settlement between the two companies reached in 2008 was valued at reportedly 65 million dollars.