Bitcoin has made billionaires out of the Winklevoss twins, thanks to a fear of astro-gold crashing the market that encouraged them to support the currency. The American entrepreneurs are perhaps most famous for claiming that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook, a story immortalized in The Social Network. On Monday, it emerged the 36-year-old twins’ investment in the cryptocurrency back in 2013 has paid off in a big way.

The Times and The Telegraph report that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have become the first investors in the blockchain-based cryptocurrency to get $1 billion returns on their investment.

The pair bought $11 million worth of bitcoin four years ago, when it was trading at $120. On Monday, Markets Insider showed the currency reached a day high of $11,826.77 on Monday, an overall all-time high.

The Winklevoss twins have been particularly positive about the currency’s future prospects ever since first hearing about it five years ago on the Spanish island of Ibiza, believing the cryptocurrency to be a better investment than gold. The pair have cited nine factors that make gold valuable, like scarcity and portability. Bitcoin wins on all of these fronts, particularly scarcity. While there’s only 21 million bitcoins that can ever exist, gold is susceptible to sudden surges in quantity, particularly if an entrepreneur cracks asteroid mining and starts bringing space gold back to Earth.

“Precious metals are precious on earth, but [they are] not that precious if there’s cheap access to space,” Tyler Winklevoss told the Financial Times last year. “It sounds sci-fi, but it’s not that far off to think that Elon Musk or someone is going to come along and mine these asteroids.”

The reports come as Bitcoin reaches all-new highs. Bitcoin has been skyrocketing over the past month, reaching $8,000 at the middle of November and hitting $11,000 just a few days later. Exchange site Coinbase, with over 10 million users and over $50 billion in transactions, has struggled with the surge in demand. Blockchain.info signed up a record 100,000 people in one day, reaching 19 million users.

Tyler Winklevoss (L) and Cameron Winklevoss.
Tyler Winklevoss (L) and Cameron Winklevoss.

Whether or not Bitcoin is better than alien gold, it’s clear that a newfound surge in interest has people talking about the currency’s applications in new ways. CME Group and Nasdaq both plan to offer futures trading options on the cryptocurrency, enabling investors to bet on its future price, while a number of retailers are accepting bitcoin as part of their regular payment process. It may not be long, as more people buy into the system, before we hear about more crypto-billionaires.


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