The $11 million stake in Bitcoin revealed today by the Winklevoss twins does absolutely nothing for the flailing legitimacy of the controversial online currency—"growing pains," they say—but at least it proves to the world that they were in on this particular trend before Mark Zuckerberg could steal it from them. That's right, the brothers who settled for $65 million for claiming to invent Facebook have owned 1 percent of all of Bitcoin since last summer, according to Nathaniel Popper and Peter Lattman at The New York Times's DealBook, who characterize the twins as the excited early adopter entrepreneur types they've always wanted so badly to be.
"People say it's a Ponzi scheme, it's a bubble," Cameron tells the paper. "People really don't want to take it seriously. At some point that narrative will shift to 'virtual currencies are here to stay.' We're in the early days." Well, nobody ever accused these two hulking brothers of a lack of foresight. And it's just the latest apparent venture by the Winklevii: Tyler told the Times in a glowing Sunday Styles profile last month that "we want to be company builders."
And, well, despite Bitcoin starting in 2009 and freaking out most of the tech and economic world Wednesday with a huge plummet, DealBook paints the Winklevoss twins as "big investors" who, along with the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, are attempting to legitimize Bitcoin in "a new stage for what has been an experimental alternative to national currencies." These investments might not exactly restore faith in what is currently a very volatile market, but volatility clearly doesn't scare Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who got in on Bitcoin when the dollar value of a single bitcoin was still in the single digits. Like many Bitcoin enthusiasts, they think that number will overcome the recent crashes and continue to skyrocket: "We have elected to put our money and faith in a mathematical framework that is free of politics and human error," Tyler tells Dealbook. "We could be totally wrong, but we are curious to see this play out a lot more."
Make no mistake: The Winklevii are in it to win it this time. That way they can really stick it to that Zuckerberg kid. Plus, what's $11 million to a couple of Olympic rowers with a ton of stock in Facebook?