The Winklevoss twins (two major characters Facebook creation story) are back in the news, this time making headlines with their $11 million purchase of one percent of all bitcoins, the virtual currency.
As of Thursday morning, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss own approximately 108,000 bitcoins. The virtual currency has had a volatile week. Bitcoins were trading for as high as $266 each on Wednesday. However, it crashed that same day and sent the online money plummeting down to $105. It eventually stabilized around $150.
So, what is bitcoin? It’s a virtual currency that was created in 2009 by an anonymous person (or people) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoins work on a peer-to-peer computer network. They are not backed by any government. They are worth only what people are willing to pay for them.
Bitcoins are known for being favorites among hackers and, most notably, as the method of payment on Silk Road – a website where narcotics can be bought and sold. So, what would prompt the Olympic-rowing twins to invest in virtual money?
The New York Times Dealbook states that the Winklevoss brothers believe that the bitcoin will become the next gold.
“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,” Cameron Winklevoss told the Times.
The twins also told the Times that the fluctuations are simply the “growing pains” for the bitcoin.
The brothers became known for their antagonistic roles in the movie "The Social Network." The film shows the real-life lawsuit the brothers had against Mark Facebook founder Zuckerberg, claiming that he had stolen their idea for Facebook. The pair settled for $45 million and Facebook stock.