As members of the crypto community, it’s hard to avoid the Winklevoss Twins. They are the original bitcoin billionaires, or as Ben Mezrich’s book calls them in his book, the ‘accidental’ billionaires.
Mezrich tells the story of how these two brothers made an early bet on an unknown and brand new digital asset and saw it pay off years later.
This alone isn’t a big reason to write a book as we basically just told you the whole story in just a sentence but Mezrich writes it a way of an ‘anthropology’ of the hype surrounding Bitcoin.
Of course, on the one hand, you have people who hate the government and despise the ‘fiat money’ but also believe people should be free to buy drugs and illegal products on the dark web. But on the other hand, there are the Winklevoss Twins who think Bitcoin should be respected and integrated into the banking system.
Following the lawsuit against Facebook, in which the brothers settled for $65 million, the twins were looking for somewhere to invest their newfound money. Silicon Valley turned them down, Zuckerberg hates them and most startups would love a deal with Facebook, so having a deal with the Winklevoss name at that time probably wasn’t wise.
The two met a guy called Charlie Shrem who ran a firm called BitInstant which helps people buy Bitcoin easier and so the Winklevoss’ sunk their money into this company and began buying Bitcoin. Even though Shrem goes off the rails a bit, the brothers know when to keep business and pleasure separate. When they first invested, Bitcoin was worth about $120 and when it reached $10,000 they were billionaires.
In the film, The Social Network, the twins weren’t seen as the villains of the story but they weren’t the heroes either. They were depicted as more of the foolish victims that made a fatal mistake and started working with the wrong guy (Mark Zuckerberg).
Mezrich finishes off unsure on whether Bitcoin is the real future of money or whether blockchain is where the money is (not literally).
“And who knows what might be discovered if the bitcoin network – the most powerful computing cluster the world has ever seen – were instead devoted to solving problems in physics or protein biology? To successful gamblers, bitcoin has been a gravy train.”