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Cameron Winklevoss

Cameron Howard Winklevoss (born August 21, 1981) is an American  investor, Co-founder & President of the  and , and Olympic rower. [1][3]

Winklevoss co-founded HarvardConnection (renamed ConnectU) alongside his brother  and Harvard classmate Divya Narendra. [4][2]

Early Life & Education

Cameron Winklevoss, born in Southampton, New York, and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, is the son of Carol and Howard Winklevoss. Howard is an author and professor of actuarial science at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Cameron attended Greenwich Country Day School and later Brunswick School for high school. He started playing classical piano at the age of 6 and studied it for 12 years. [5]

At an early age, he (left-handed) and his identical twin brother  (right-handed) demonstrated a pattern of teamwork, building Legos together and playing musical instruments. At the age of 13, they taught themselves HTML and started a web page company, which developed websites for businesses. [6]

He attended Havard University in 2000 and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Economics in 2004. From 2009 to 2010, Winklevoss completed an MBA at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. [2]

Rowing

Cameron Winklevoss, like his brother , began rowing at the age of 15 at the Saugatuck Rowing Club on the Saugatuck River in 1997. His first coach was Irishman James Mangan who coached the twins throughout high school. In the summer of 1999, he earned a place in the United States Junior National Rowing Team, competing in the coxed pair event with his brother at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. [18]

In 2007, Cameron was named to the United States Pan American Team and competed at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He won a silver medal in the men's coxless four events and a gold medal in the men's eight events on the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.[19]

Cameron Winklevoss earned the 6th position rowing with  in the men's coxless pair event representing the United States of America's Rowing team in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. In 2009, Winklevoss won a bronze medal at the Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland in the men's coxless four events.[18][20]

Career

ConnectU

In December 2002, Cameron Winklevoss, alongside his brother , and classmate Divya Narendra, conceived an idea for a social network for Harvard students named HarvardConnection, which was to expand to other schools around the country. [7]

In 2003, they enlisted Sanjay Mavinkurve, a fellow Harvard student and programmer, to help build HarvardConnection. However, Mavinkurve left the project in the spring of 2003 after graduating to work for Google. [8][8]

After Mavinkurve left, the Winklevosses and Narendra turned to Victor Gao, a friend of Narendra and a Harvard student programmer, to join HarvardConnection. Gao decided not to become a full partner and instead worked on a contractual basis. He received $400 for his work on the website code during the summer and fall of 2003. However, he later stepped away from the project due to personal commitments. [8][9]

Mark Zuckerberg's Involvement

In November 2003, Gao suggested the Winklevosses and Narendra approached Zuckerberg to join HarvardConnection. After assessing the progress made by previous programmers, Zuckerberg quickly took over the programming duties from Gao. [9][10]

On November 25, 2003, in Harvard's Kirkland House dining hall, the Winklevosses, Narendra, and Zuckerberg met. They discussed HarvardConnection, expansion plans, project confidentiality, and the importance of being first. Allegedly, Zuckerberg entered into an oral contract, becoming a partner in HarvardConnection. [10][11]

Zuckerberg was given the unfinished HarvardConnection website code and server access. Rather than monetary compensation, he opted for equity in the project as his payment (sweat equity).[8]

Facebook Lawsuits

In 2004, ConnectU (fka HavardConnection) filed a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing Mark Zuckerberg of breaching an oral contract. The lawsuit claimed that Zuckerberg had copied their idea and unlawfully utilized source code that was initially intended for the website he was contracted to develop. [11]

Facebook countersued concerning Social Butterfly, a Winklevoss Chang Group project. The countersuit was named among the defendants ConnectU, , Tyler Winklevoss, Divya Narendra, and Wayne Chang, founder of i2hub. An agreement settling both cases was reached in February 2008, with the Winklevoss party receiving $20 million in cash and $45 million in Facebook stock. In May 2010, however, ConnectU accused Facebook of misrepresenting the value of the stock that it turned over to the ConnectU plaintiffs as part of the settlement and sought to void the settlement. ConnectU alleged that the value of the stock was $11 million rather than $45 million, as represented by Facebook at the time of the settlement. [11][12]

In April 2011, Ninth Circuit judge Alex Kozinski opined that "at some point, litigation must come to an end. ... That point has now been reached." The twins' lawyer stated that they would seek a rehearing with the entire appeals court bench. In June 2011 it was announced that a decision to pursue the case in the Supreme Court had been withdrawn. [13]

Quinn Emanuel lawsuits

ConnectU's law firm, Quinn Emanuel, accidentally revealed the confidential settlement amount in marketing material, stating they "won a $65 million settlement against Facebook." Quinn Emanuel sought a $13 million contingency fee from the settlement. ConnectU terminated Quinn Emanuel's services and sued them for malpractice. In August 2010, an arbitration panel determined that Quinn Emanuel had rightfully earned their full contingency fee and found no evidence of malpractice. [14]

The Winklevoss Chang Group Lawsuit

On December 21, 2009, i2hub founder Wayne Chang and The i2hub Organization launched a lawsuit against ConnectU and its founders, seeking 50% of the settlement[15]. The complaint said:

"The Winklevosses and Howard Winklevoss filed [a] patent application, U.S. Patent Application No. 20060212395, on or around March 15, 2005, but did not list Chang as a co-inventor..."

"Through this litigation, Chang asserts his ownership interest in The Winklevoss Chang Group and ConnectU, including the settlement proceeds". [15]

On May 13, 2011, it was reported that Judge Peter Lauriat made a ruling against the Winklevosses, and Chang's case against them could proceed. The Winklevosses argued that the court lacks jurisdiction because the settlement with Facebook has not been distributed and therefore Chang hasn't suffered any injury. Judge Lauriat wrote:

"The flaw in this argument is that defendants appear to conflate loss of the settlement proceed with loss of rights. Chang alleges that he has received nothing in return for the substantial benefits he provided to ConnectU, including the value of his work, as well as i2hub's users and goodwill."[16]

Lauriat also wrote that, although Chang's claims to the settlement are:

"too speculative to confer standing, his claims with respect to an ownership in ConnectU are not. They constitute an injury separate and distinct from his possible share of the settlement proceeds. The court concludes that Chang has pled sufficient facts to confer standing with respect to his claims against the Winklevoss defendants."[17][16]

Winklevoss Capital Management

In April 2012, Cameron and his brother Tyler founded , a firm that invests across multiple asset classes with an emphasis on providing seed funding and infrastructure to early-stage startups. The company is headquartered in New York's Flatiron District. [21]

Bitcoin Investment

In 2013, Cameron and Winklevoss invested $11 million from their $65 million payout from their lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, in . At that time, the price of Bitcoin was around $120 per token. The Winklevoss twins claimed to own almost 1% of the total Bitcoin in circulation. [28]

In 2017, the Winklevoss twins briefly became billionaires when Bitcoin’s price soared to a record high before experiencing significant volatility. The Winklevoss twins were believed to be the first public figures to have seen their Bitcoin investment hit $1bn. [29]

BitInstant

In May 2013, led a seed funding round that raised $1.5 million for BitInstant, a New York City-based startup that operated an online platform for buying and selling . [30]

Unfortunately, Charlie Shrem, the former CEO, was later arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for operating an unlicensed money business. Prosecutors said he knowingly traded Bitcoin that had been used for illegal drug transactions and money laundering. BitInstant shut down later in 2013. The brothers later sued Shrem in 2018, claiming Shrem stole Bitcoin from them. An undisclosed settlement was reached in 2019. [30]

Gemini

In February 2014, Cameron Winklevoss and his brother founded , a  and custodian that allows customers to buy, sell, and store  The exchange is licensed as a New York trust company, making it a qualified custodian and a fiduciary under New York Law. Cameron serves as the President of the organization. [3][22]

Gemini Dollar

Gemini Dollar (GUSD) is a   built on the , issued by and pegged 1:1 to the U.S. dollar. GUSD was launched on the 10th of September, 2018, after receiving regulatory approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).[23][24]

Gemini Acquires Nifty Gateway

In November 2019, Gemini acquired Nifty Gateway, a platform for  (NFTs, also known as "nifties") that power the emerging economy of digital collectibles and virtual goods. [38][39]

Controversy: Gemini vs. SEC

In July 2023, Gemini announced legal action against the conglomerate (DCG) and its CEO, Barry Silbert, claiming “fraud against creditors.” [25]

Gemini filed a complaint in a New York court on July 7, 2023, alleging that DCG and Silbert were involved in a scheme, lending significant amounts of and U.S. dollars to Genesis. The filing claims that Gemini aims to recover funds lost due to DCG's and Silbert's alleged false, misleading, and incomplete representations and omissions, as well as their role in encouraging and facilitating Genesis' fraud against Gemini. Gemini also intends to explore legal actions in Genesis' bankruptcy case. [25]

“Barry, DCG, and Genesis all conspired to create false financial reports to hide the truth from Gemini and creditors. This fraud goes to the very top. Barry Silbert and other DCG executives were directly involved in these lies and they lied again and again to conceal the truth from Gemini and other creditors.” tweeted Cameron Winklevoss.[26]

The fallout of the Earn program made both Genesis and Gemini targets of federal and state regulators. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a suit against the two firms in January 2023 for allegedly offering unregistered securities. New York’s Department of Financial Services was reportedly investigating Gemini over claims in its Earn program. [25][27][39]

ETF Proposal Rejection

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss tried to launch a in 2013. Their initial proposal was rejected by the SEC in March 2017, citing concerns about the largely unregulated nature of Bitcoin markets. [31][33]

”When the spot market is unregulated--there must be significant, regulated derivatives markets related to the underlying asset with which the Exchange can enter into a surveillance-sharing agreement.” - SEC responded[31]

The Winklevosses filed a second proposal for the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust in June 2018, which was also rejected by the SEC. The SEC was not convinced that a Bitcoin ETF was a reasonable investment vehicle, citing issues with fraud, investor protection, and manipulation. The Winklevosses argued that Bitcoin markets, including their own Gemini exchange, were “uniquely resistant to manipulation,” but the SEC disagreed with the claim. [32]

“Despite today’s ruling, we look forward to continuing to work with the SEC and remain deeply committed to bringing a regulated bitcoin ETF to market and building the future of money,” - Cameron Winklevoss, co-founder and President of Gemini said regarding the matter. [32]

Crypto Self-Regulation Bid

In March 2018, the Winklevoss twins proposed a self-regulatory organization (SRO) called the Virtual Commodity Association (VCA) for cryptocurrency markets. The VCA aimed to promote “price discovery, efficiency, and transparency” by adopting industry standards. The proposal had received a cautious welcome from members of the crypto markets, who believed that the industry suffered from a lack of transparency, ethics, and clearly defined rules that participants could follow. [34][37]

The VCA aimed to introduce information sharing, rules-based markets, and surveillance systems to an industry whose workings were largely hidden from public and government scrutiny. [34]

The proposed cryptocurrency SRO won the support of CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz who had consistently advocated for the creation of a crypto SRO. In a statement released on March 13, 2018, he commented: [35]

"Ultimately, a virtual commodity SRO that has the most independence from its membership, the most diversity of views, and the strongest ability to discover, reveal, and punish wrongdoing will add the most integrity to these markets. I encourage Gemini (or any other market participant, advocacy group, platform, or firm) to be aggressive in promoting these qualities within any SRO construct."[36]

The VCA was not a regulatory body, but rather a self-regulatory organization that aimed to preserve an ecosystem of innovation within cryptocurrency markets. The VCA onboarded 4 crypto exchanges, Bittrex, bitFlyer USA, and Bitstamp as initial members. [34][37]

"We believe a thoughtful SRO framework that provides a virtual commodity regulatory program for the virtual commodity industry is the next logical step in the maturation of this market," the Winklevosses concluded. [36]

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