Olympic rower duo, identical twins and legal thorns in Mark Zuckerberg’s side, the Winklevoss twins, have struck it rich in their latest venture — Bitcoins.
Move aside, Facebook, digital money just may be where its at. The Winklevosses, also known collectively as the Winklevii, own about $11 million in Bitcoins. To add perspective, the entire Bitcoin market was once worth a cool $1.3 billion.
So what are Bitcoins? How did the twin brothers come to see value in them?
It all began back in 2009, with the anonymous creator or group of creators that goes under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto and became the world’s first decentralized currency. The Bitcoin system works by using a peer-to-peer (P2P) connection network similar to that of BitTorrent and Skype. It is not tied to any real world currency, nor is it ran by the likes of a central organization. Online gold-diggers can sign up to obtain an online "wallet" with Bitcoin where transactions occur — at the risk of being cheated or losing all money if Bitcoin were to ever go out of business. Bitcoins can also be loss through the means of clever hackers or a crashed computer system that has forgone backup files. The way to earn Bitcoins is through mining — that is, solving difficult mathematical problems. And that isn’t even the half of it.
The Harvard-educated twins began their foray into online mining last summer. They protected their network from hackers by thorough means: flash drives, computer codes and depositing said flash drives into banks in three different cities. The fact that Bitcoins haven't been discounted as an alternative means of currency has been more than enough to hold their interest and see where the future of Bitcoin may take them yet.
“We have elected to put our money and faith in a mathematical framework that is free of politics and human error,” Tyler Winklevoss said.
Cameron Winklevoss noted the reality of people not wanting to take serious investment with a program still in its early stages. However, he believes that the “narrative will shift” to where digital currency will be here to stay.
Current businesses that accept Bitcoins include Reddit and WordPress. On the shadier side, the anonymous online black market, Silk Road, also uses Bitcoins to complete transactions. Because if you can buy LSD with Bitcoins, anything else can surely become fair game later down the road.