No, The Winklevoss Twins Are Not ‘Bitcoin Billionaires’

Ok, so maybe I’m just an idiot who is missing something. And I am 100% sure that if that turns out to be the case, my inbox will let me know within minutes.

With that as the upfront disclaimer and with the follow-on disclaimer that if I am indeed missing something about this story it would hardly be the first time I’ve inadvertently glossed over some important nuance or another, allow me to go out on a limb and say that the following headlines don’t seem to make any sense:

  • The Winklevoss twins are now Bitcoin billionaires
  • How Winklevoss twins used $11m Facebook payout to become world’s first Bitcoin billionaires
  • The Winklevoss twins have become the world’s first bitcoin billionaires: Report

You all know the story by now. The Winklevoss twins got outwitted by Mark Zuckerberg and some of the money from the $65 million settlement they received was plowed into Bitcoin. Or so the legend goes.


The Winklevii, as they are known, have amassed since last summer what appears to be one of the single largest portfolios of the digital money, whose wild gyrations have Silicon Valley and Wall Street talking,” DealBook reported in 2013, adding that “the twins, are the first prominent figures in the largely anonymous bitcoin world to publicly disclose a big stake.” At the time, that stake was worth some $11 million.

“People say it’s a Ponzi scheme, it’s a bubble,” Cameron Winklevoss told DealBook, noting that although “people really don’t want to take it seriously,” everyone will eventually realize “virtual currencies are here to stay.” “We are,” he continued, “in the early days.”

Well by God he was right about that. And his brother is well on his way to being right about the following assessment, delivered during an interview with CNN Money in 2015:

If Bitcoin is a better gold or seen as a type of gold-like asset, then it could be in the trillions on a market cap. We do feel those are very real possibilities.

At the time, Bitcoin’s market cap was a mere $4 billion. It’s now nearly $200 billion.

So that brings us to the headlines from the bullet points above. Cue the Telegraph:

The twin brothers who sued Mark Zuckerberg claiming he stole the idea for Facebook are worth more than $1bn after capitalising on the astonishing rise in Bitcoin.

An $11m (£8m) bet on Bitcoin made by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss over four years ago has ballooned by almost 10,000pc after last week’s price surge. It is believed to be the first billion-dollar return made by a cryptocurrency investor, a landmark moment for the controversial asset.

Bitcoin hit $11,395 last week, capping a boom that started a year ago and accelerated dramatically in recent days, despite a chorus of warnings about its threat to financial stability and potential for criminal exploitation. The rise has made millionaires out of many of its early backers but the Winklevoss twins are believed to be the first public figures to have turned an investment into more than $1bn.

Ok, first of all, good for these two guys. They got duped out of starting Facebook and had to watch Mark Zuckerberg become one of the richest human beings to ever walk the Earth and now they can at least say they got in on the ground floor of something else big and weren’t ultimately screwed out of their “fair” share.

With that said, it certainly seems to me that all of these headlines are in fact incorrect. By about a half billion dollars.

Because “the Winklevoss twins” are not in fact “Bitcoin billionaires.” That doesn’t make any sense. There are too many “s”s in there (and I don’t mean their last name).

The twins are not “Bitcoin billionaires“. The twins (with an “s”) are a “Bitcoin billionaire” (add an “a” in front and subtract an “s” from the end).

But that doesn’t make any sense either. Because “a billionaire” is one person. It’s not two people. If you can take two people who are collectively worth some amount and attribute the label that goes with that amount to both of them, well then Heisenberg and Jeff Bezos are “hundred billionaires”.

Similarly, if I own one BMW and my neighbor owns one BMW, we do not each own two BMWs. Or, if I eat a honey bun for breakfast and you eat a honey bun for breakfast we did not each eat two honey buns.

Of course my logic assumes that the twins are actually two people. Maybe they’re one person. After all, the actor who portrayed them on the silver screen alluded to this possibility:


Although if they really are one person, then one wonders why, when that one person appears in public in two-person form, he can’t decide whether to wear a regular tux or grandma’s paisley sofa:


I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day, he/they is/are still the laughing stock of the tech universe…

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One thought on “No, The Winklevoss Twins Are Not ‘Bitcoin Billionaires’

  1. These two have been trying to get a product on the market for a long time, backed by their BTC holdings. They are smart enough to realize they can’t simple dump their holdings, which is a material % of the BTCs trading on the secondary, on the open market. Most (if not all) of the BTC exchanges can’t support that type of volume. Instead, these two have elected to start an ETF & simply sell shares into a brain-dead retail market, diluting their notional exposure to BTC. It is brilliant because they could probably tank the market with their open-market sell orders to capture unrealized gains, but still sell out at a good price (and probably above NAV if it gets approved soon). If Bloomberg, Reuters and all the other media outlets did a little thinking before giving these guys free publicity, they’d probably realize the cynical side of the product. But they want their clicks, so here we are…

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