Return Of The Voss: How The Winklevoss Twins Built A Crypto Fortune To Last

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Cofounders, Winklevoss Capital

Crypto Net Worth: $900 million-$1.1 billion each*

Tyler Winklevoss and his twin brother, Cameron, have waged, for now, one of the great comeback stories in American business. For years they were a punch line, the privileged jocks that Mark Zuckerberg left in the dust to build Facebook.

Famously, the Winklevoss twins, 36, accused Zuckerberg of stealing their idea for a social network, suing Facebook and settling for $65 million in Facebook stock and cash. They drew down on that war chest when they began investing in Bitcoin in a big way in 2012 — a move that drew yet more derision as Facebook shares continued exploding.

But the former Olympic rowers held on to their Bitcoin through the digital currency’s violent ups and downs, including an 80% drop from 2013 to 2015, and sunk more money into other crypto-assets like Ether.

They also built a lucrative New York-based cryptocurrency exchange, Gemini, where investors can buy and sell digital currencies. Before opening the trading platform in 2015, the “Winklevii” worked closely with New York regulators. “Our philosophy is to ask for permission, not forgiveness,” Cameron Winklevoss has said.

Today Gemini sits alongside Coinbase as one of the few places where U.S residents can easily sell crypto for U.S. dollars. It recently handled $300 million of transactions daily and might have more long-term value than the twins’ currency holdings. When it gained approval to operate as a financial services firm two years ago, it cleared a high barrier to entry, says Stan Miroshnik, CEO of the Element, an investment bank for cryptocurrency token sales. “That’s a years-long and capital-intensive legal process.”