Also, it’s a pretty entertaining book
*5 minute read*
*Beware, some spoilers ahead.*
If you remember ‘The Social Network’ as the perfect depiction of Innovation versus Establishment, or Zuckerberg versus Winklevoss, Ben Mezrich’s ‘Bitcoin Billionaires’ will have you reconsider those roles faster than you can say ‘Cambridge Analytica’.
Back in the days when Mark Zuckerberg seemed to be the next great technologist, a Steve Jobs for social networks, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss were struggling with the notion that despite the millions of dollars acquired through their settlement, they were shunned by the masses and deemed entitled, pretentious brutes. And despite all of this, the twins have made quite a comeback for their second act, becoming ‘Bitcoin billionaires’ in the process.
**The plot** begins with the later stages of the legal battle, in which some of Zuckerberg’s wrongdoings are elucidated, such as calling Harvard students “dumb fucks” for trusting him with their emails and personal information, or hacking ConnectU (the twins’ failed social network) to make a white supermacist version of Cameron’s profile.
Leaving the social madness behind, the twins set out to launch their investment firm, Winklevoss Capital, but quickly discover that no one will take their money, for fear of being scorned by the Facebook empire, and so they set out to do what any normal person would do in 2012 with 65 million dollars, go party in Ibiza.
But no Mediterranean party comes without its fair share of weirdos, and thus the twins are introduced to the magic Internet money of Bitcoin and afterwards to Charlie Shrem and BitInstant. The now defunct company was one of the first exchanges “helping people buy Bitcoin in an easy way” which the brothers became investors for.
**Talk about paranoia.** Deep inside the rabbit hole and having acquired approximately 1% of all coins in circulation, mainly from the infamous Mt. Gox, the book depicts the security protocol that the twins design in order to keep their fortune safe: “twelve safety-deposit boxes, held across three different banking institutions, and spread across four distinct regions in the United States”, each holding a third of their private keys; meaning that no one could acquire them by accessing any individual box. Afterwards, they go as far as destroying all of their electronics with a sledgehammer, erasing any digital fingerprints in the process.
**Cryptolore.** What makes the book so entertaining for anyone interested in cryptocurrency, is that it recounts many of the milestones and dark chapters of Bitcoin’s history in cinematographic fashion, such as the arrest of Ross Ulbricht. The creator of the online black market Silk Road which mainly used cryptocurrency for its transactions, had his laptop seized by two FBI agents enacting a couple’s quarrel.
**Which brings us to Naval.** Another interesting discovery within the book is Naval Ravikant’s feature in it, inviting the brothers to a meeting called “The Genesis Block” in which technical heavyweights from companies like Paypal, BitTorrent, Google Chrome and Coinbase gather to discuss the future of Bitcoin. Naval, a wildly successful investor, is nowadays better known for his philosophical views and practical spirituality, and has developed a cultlike following after his appearance in the Joe Rogan podcast.
**In the end, redemption.** Done with the trials and tribulations of the infant industry, the book calls it a day right after Gemini is launched, the twins’ fully regulated, fully compliant, virtual currency exchange headquartered in New York, which seems to be doing quite well these days, considering Bitcoin is hovering above $50,000.
*If you made it all the way here wondering whether we’d use the word ‘Winklevii’ at some point, we didn’t.*