Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable rise in value has finally created its first billionaires.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who invested $11 million of their settlement from Facebook four years ago into Bitcoin, have seen their stake increase by nearly 10,000 per cent. Bitcoin’s price passed $11,000 USD ($14,000 CAD) this week.

The Winklevoss twins bought an estimated 1% of all bitcoins in circulation. They are the biggest single owners of bitcoin, making them the first billionaires, and there are likely to be more.

Satoshi Nakamoto, the near-mythical creator of Bitcoin, whose identity and number of bitcoins owned is unproven, could also be a billionaire right now. Nakamoto allegedly owns 1 million bitcoins spread across wallets making it difficult to confirm either value or ownership.

The Winklevoss twins

The twins co-founded HarvardConnection, later named ConnectU, while at Harvard University. They claimed that Mark Zuckerberg consequently stole their idea and created Facebook. The brothers sued Zuckerberg, receiving a payout of $65 million.

They are internet entrepreneurs and now venture capitalists. They claimed ownership of 1% of Bitcoin after their $11 million purchase in 2013, a figure which is supported by the Top 100 Richest Bitcoin Addresses lists.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss own Math-Based Asset Services LLC and filed to register a bitcoin-based exchange traded fund (ETF) called Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, in 2013. This venture was finally refused by the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission in March, 2017.

Again in 2013 they led a $1.5 million seed funding drive for failed payment processor BitInstant. 

More bitcoin billionaires

In 2014, Charlie Shrem, then CEO of BitInstant, was charged with money laundering related to the Silk Road black market. Authorities sentenced Shrem to two years in prison. He since bounced back and is a founder of the Bitcoin Foundation and Director of Business and Community Development for Jaxx.

In 2015, Charlie Shrem had a net worth of $45 million CAD. He owned an unconfirmed number of bitcoins at the time, which almost certainly run into the thousands. He too is likely to become a bitcoin billionaire.

BitInfoCharts rich list indicates three single wallets worth more than $1 billion USD each. Since investors often own more than one digital currency wallet, though, sole owners of billion-dollar bitcoin stakes could now number in the tens or more.

One of these wallets is likely to be that now held by the US government, or more specifically the FBI, who seized 144,000 bitcoins most of which came from the Silk Road investigation.

Other individual, largest, owners of bitcoin include Jared Kenna, Yifu Guo and Roger Ver.

 

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

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