Winklevoss brothers, two of the most influential investors of new generation, say bitcoin has an ability to change the world.
Born in 1981, the twins studied at Harvard and Oxford and were predicted for success. In 2008, after claiming Mark Zuckerberg had stolen their idea for Facebook, the brothers won a $65 million settlement from the social network. In 2008, they competed in the men’s pair rowing event at the Beijing Olympics.
The brothers first discovered bitcoin in July 2012 while partying in Ibiza. Their encounter with bitcoin was more spontaneous. Tyler Winklevoss said: “We were on vacation, and happened to bump into a guy who is mutual friend and he started to tell us about bitcoin.”
He said it was the right time to begin something new after five years of litigations with Facebook. “At the time we were just re-immersing ourselves inside the tech world, getting into the trenches again,” he said.
Winklevoss brothers admit that bitcoin now has the potential to become bigger than Facebook. The bitcoin market is currently worth $151 billion.
“Bitcoin potentially could be more impactful because being able to donate 50 cents to someone across the world has more impact than potentially sharing a picture,” Tyler said.
“But they’re very different. Facebook is like the internet – a large company and an application. Bitcoin is a protocol for decentralisation, so you could build a decentralised company on top of it, a stock market. It’s an internet of ownership, so it’s not quite a direct comparison.”
Bitcoin market capitalization amounts to $5.7 billion. The Winklevoss brothers own 1% of all bitcoin.
However, the optimism about bitcoin is not shared by all in Silicon Valley. The New York-based investment firm Goldman Sachs reported that the digital currency is unlikely to be viable due to its high volatility.
“Calling bitcoin volatile – it’s a non-statement. Unregulated assets with unclear regulatory landscapes are always going to be volatile. That’s what unregulated assets do,” commented Winklevoss.
“I can make the same argument about the internet in the early days. But sure enough, technologists came and worked hard at the problem, and it’s getting better.”
Tyler Winklevoss is actively promoting bitcoin. During his speech earlier this year at the Oxford University he said: “It’s the only thing people want to know. The promise of the internet is being held back by Visa, Master Card, American Express.”
He also noted: “You can’t buy stuff in the majority of the world – the majority of the world doesn’t have the financial inclusion we take for granted, which is a bank account and a way to save money.”
The twins anticipate that Wall Street will get involved in bitcoin this year. “If a new technology comes out and the incumbent doesn’t evolve, then they generally lose,” Winklevoss says. He knows who will stand tall by the end.