New York State Department of Financial Services grants Gemini Trust Co. , the Winklevosses Bitcoin exchange, a limited liability trust charter, holding it to the regulatory standards of a trust bank and allowing it to operate as a regulated financial-services institution. The trust charter is from a state institution, but in practice gives Gemini the ability to take deposits from any customers and operate in all 50 U.S. states. DFS:
We are continuing to move forward on licensing and chartering virtual currency firms. Smart, targeted regulation that helps protect consumers and prevent illicit activity is vital to the long-term future of this industry.
The brothers open an API, or application programming interface, for their index so that developers can build applications using it. Cameron:
We’ve spent a lot of time trying to build a really cool tool. Obviously the index will be big for us because it will be used to price any future ETF. But we also wanted to build on this for the betterment of the Bitcoin community…It’ll be really interesting to see what people do. And even though ostensibly an API of a pricing product is not super sexy, this matters to the Bitcoin community.
The interior design for Winklevoss Capital Management is revealed. According to the designers, BRDesign, the Company wanted to create an office where they could establish the firm as well as provide an ‘incubator’ space where the startups in their portfolio could grow before having to invest in their own office spaces. The 5000 sq ft office has an open and simple space, to foster collaboration within and even between different startups. Tyler and Cameron have the only two private offices in the space, flanking the main conference room, which are glass-enclosed to maintain transparency.
In their debut episode, the twins talk with Branson about the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur. Branson:
I think the most successful entrepreneurs are not the people who sit down and think, ‘how can I make lots of money’ … it’s the people like Larry Page who think, ‘I ought to be able to search for something. There’s no place I can do it.’ And they sit in their garage and they make a search machine.
In an email to The New York Times Cameron, who with Tyler own about $64.1 million worth of the virtual currency, said that the closure of Mt Gox’s closure “underscores just how far the Bitcoin ecosystem has come.”
Cameron: Several exchanges have seamlessly picked up the slack and the market price has shown remarkable resilience. Mt. Gox is in the past, and the brightest minds in the room are hard at work building a responsible and secure future.”
Shrem is arrested at JFK airport and charged with money laundering. Shrem, along with a co-conspirator, is accused of selling over $1 million in bitcoins to Silk Road users, who would then use them to buy drugs and other illicit items.According to the criminal complaint, Shrem allegedly also bought drugs on Silk Road. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara:
As alleged, Robert Faiella and Charlie Shrem schemed to sell over $1 million in Bitcoins to criminals bent on trafficking narcotics on the dark web drug site, Silk Road. Truly innovative business models don’t need to resort to old-fashioned law-breaking, and when Bitcoins, like any traditional currency, are laundered and used to fuel criminal activity, law enforcement has no choice but to act. We will aggressively pursue those who would coopt new forms of currency for illicit purposes.”
The Winklevoss twins response:
When we invested in BitInstant in the fall of 2012, its management made a commitment to us that they would abide by all applicable laws – including money laundering laws – and we expected nothing less. Although BitInstant is not named in today’s indictment of Charlie Shrem, we are obviously deeply concerned about his arrest. We were passive investors in BitInstant and will do everything we can to help law enforcement officials. We fully support any and all governmental efforts to ensure that money laundering requirements are enforced, and look forward to clearer regulation being implemented on the purchase and sale of bitcoins.
People own their own bodies, and have the absolute right to put anything they want into it. People like the FBI, and DEA agents who want to lock people in cages for buying, selling, or using drugs are the ones committing evil, and they need to stop. I look forward to the day when they see the error of their ways, and stop committing evil acts in the name of ‘law enforcement’.
The money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. BitInstant is now offline.
BitInstant, a New York City based startup that operates an online platform for buying and selling Bitcoins, raises $1.5 million in a seed funding round led by Winklevoss Capital. BitInstant’s full-time staff of 16 led by CEO Charlie Shrem processes approximately 30 percent of the money going into and out of Bitcoin, and last month alone facilitated 30,000 transactions. The Winklevosses say they were attracted to invest in BitInstant in large part because Shrem is the vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, and CIO Alex Waters previously worked with the core developers on the original Satoshi Bitcoin client.
Cameron: Charlie has been in the space for a very long time, and he has an impeccable reputation among Bitcoiners.
WSJ’s Stu Woo asks the Winklevoss twins to teach him Olympic-level rowing:
While partying in Ibiza the twins are introduced to Bitcoin:
Tyler: We were on vacation, and happened to bump into a guy who is mutual friend and he started to tell us about bitcoin. We were fascinated from day one. At the time we were just re-immersing ourselves inside the tech world, getting into the trenches again.
The first trailer for the upcoming movie based on Facebook’s early days is released. The movie will star Arnie Hammer as both twins and Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg hacks into ConnectU’s site and makes changes to multiple user profiles, including makeing a fake profile for Cameron Winklevoss. The profile lists Cameron’s height as 7’4″, his hair color as “Ayran Blond,” and his eye color as “Sky Blue.” He listed Cameron’s “language” as “WASP-y.” He also logged into the accounts of some ConnectU users and changes their privacy settings so they are invisible to other users. He also deactivates about 20 ConnectU accounts entirely.
The HarvardConnect team send a cease & desist letter to Zuckerberg.
The Winklevosses and Narendra find out about thefacebook.com when they read a press release in The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper.
Tyler: None of us knew about it until we picked up the [Crimson]. We read this article that says ‘thefacebook launched by Mark Zuckerberg,’ and we sort of stepped back and were like, ‘Well, that sounds like our idea…’
According to Gao, who looked at the HarvardConnection code afterward, Zuckerberg had left the HarvardConnection code incomplete and non-functional, with a registration that did not connect with the back-end connections.
Zuckerberg launches thefacebook.com, a social network for Harvard students, designed to expand to other schools around the country.
In a meeting with the team Zuckerberg tells the HarvardConnection team that he will continue to work on the site and would email the group later in the week. Zuckerberg informs them that he is involved with another project. but does not elaborate. He does not mention that he has registered thefacebook.com nor that he is setting up a rival website.
After the meeting, Zukerberg has another IM exchange with his friend. He tells her, in effect, that he had wimped out. He hadn’t been able to break the news to Cameron and Tyler, in part, he said, because he was “intimidated” by them. He called them “poor bastards.”
Zuckerberg registers the domain name thefacebook.com. The next day he emails Eduardo Saverin, saying that the site thefacebook.com was almost complete and that they should discuss marketing strategies
After several weeks of saying he was busy with other work, Zuckerberg meets with the Winklevosses and Narendra in his dorm room, allegedly confirming his interest and assuring them that the site was almost complete. On the whiteboard in his room, Zuckerberg allegedly had scrawled multiple lines of code under the heading “Harvard Connection,” and this would be the only time they saw any of his work.
In early January Zuckerberg has the following IM exchange with a friend
FRIEND: so have you decided what you are going to do about the websites?
ZUCK: yea i’m going to f-ck them
ZUCK: probably in the year
In emails Zuckerberg says he is too busy to work on the site
Sorry it’s taken a while for me to get back to you. I’m completely swamped with work this week. I have three programming projects and a final paper due by Monday, as well as a couple of problem sets due Friday. I’ll be available to discuss the site again starting Tuesday…I”m still a little skeptical that we have enough functionality in the site to really draw the attention and gain the critical mass necessary to get a site like this to run…Anyhow, we’ll talk about it once I get everything else done.
An IM exchange with Zuckerberg’s friend shows he is conflicted about developing HarvardConnections (“that dating site) and thefacebook.
Z: So you know how I’m making that dating site
Z: I wonder how similar that is to the Facebook thing
Z: Because they’re probably going to be released around the same time
Z: Unless I f-ck the dating site people over and quit on them right before I told them I’d have it done.
Z: Like I don’t think people would sign up for the facebook thing if they knew it was for dating
Z: and I think people are skeptical about joining dating things too.
Z: But the guy doing the dating thing is going to promote it pretty well.
Z: I wonder what the ideal solution is.
Z: I think the Facebook thing by itself would draw many people, unless it were released at the same time as the dating thing.
Z: In which case both things would cancel each other out and nothing would win. Any ideas? Like is there a good way to consolidate the two.
D: We could make it into a whole network like a friendster. haha. Stanford has something like that internally
Z: Well I was thinking of doing that for the facebook. The only thing that’s different about theirs is that you like request dates with people or connections with the facebook you don’t do that via the system.
Z: I also hate the fact that I’m doing it for other people haha. Like I hate working under other people. I feel like the right thing to do is finish the facebook and wait until the last day before I’m supposed to have their thing ready and then be like “look yours isn’t as good as this so if you want to join mine you can…otherwise I can help you with yours later.” Or do you think that’s too dick?
D: I think you should just ditch them
Z: The thing is they have a programmer who could finish their thing and they have money to pour into advertising and stuff. Oh wait I have money too. My friend who wants to sponsor this is head of the investment society. [He is talking about Eduardo Saverin] Apparently insider trading isn’t illegal in Brazil so he’s rich lol.
Zuckerberg sends an IM to his friend Severin:
Check this site out: www.harvardconnection.com and then go to harvardconnection.com/datehome.php. Someone is already trying to make a dating site. But they made a mistake haha. They asked me to make it for them. So I’m like delaying it so it won’t be ready until after the facebook thing comes out.
Zuckerberg tells Cameron that he doesn’t expect completion of the project to be difficult. Over the next few days he sends a series of emails indicating he is working on the site.
I read over all the stuff you sent and it seems like it shouldn’t take too long to implement, so we can talk about that after I get all the basic functionality up tomorrow night.
And on Dec 1:
I put together one of the two registration pages so I have everything working on my system now. I’ll keep you posted as I patch stuff up and it starts to become completely functional.
The brothers and Narendra meet Zuckerberg in the dining hall of Harvard’s Kirkland House, where they explain the HarvardConnection website, the plan to expand to other schools after launch, the confidential nature of the project, and the importance of getting there first. During the meeting, Zuckerberg allegedly enters into an oral contract with Narendra and the Winklevosses to become a partner in HarvardConnection.
Although his attorneys have denied that any formal discussion about compensation or ownership of Harvard Connection took place, Gao would later tell the court:
I told him that [Narendra and the Winklevosses] would either pay him on a rolling basis or take him on as a partner with the possibility of taking an equal stake. He became visibly excited. He told me that he wanted the latter option … because he thought the Harvard Connection website had the potential to reach out to a very large user base.
He is given the private server location and password for the unfinished HarvardConnection website and code, with the understanding that he will finish the programming necessary for launch. Zuckerberg allegedly chooses to be compensated in the form of sweat equity.
The site has front-end pages, a registration system, a database, back-end coding, and a way users can connect with each other, which Gao called a “handshake”. Because Gao is leaving, the Winklevosses and Narendra contact Mark Zuckerberg about joining the team. Narendra emails Zuckerberg:
We’re very deep into developing a site which we would like you to be a part of and … which we know will make some waves on campus
Zuckerberg is well-known at Harvard for creating Facemash, a “Hot Or Not” clone for Harvard. Zuckerberg had got in trouble because he had pulled photos from Harvard’s webservers. Even so, the site had been an instant hit.
The brothers, along with their friend, Divya Narendra start work on a social network for Harvard students named HarvardConnection, which was to expand to other schools around the country. They hire Sanjay Mavinkurve, who works on the system until Spring 2003 and then Victor Gao, who is paid $400 for his work on the website code during the second half of 2003.