Winklevoss Twins' $20m Bitcoin Fund Struggles For Friends In Wake Of Facebook Row

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WINKLEVOSS
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 11: Cameron (C) and Tyler Winklevoss (L) leave the U.S. Court of Appeals on January 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Twin brothers and former Harvard University classmates Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are requesting that a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to void a 2008 agreement to pay the twins $65 million citing that Facebook did not give an accurate valuation of its shares before agreeing to pay the settlement. (Photo by Justin S | Getty

After suing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their social networking idea, the Winklevoss twins’ new $20m idea has got off to a shaky start.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have planned to launch a Bitcoin ETF (exchange-traded fund), which is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges that would deal in the notoriously volatile digital currency Bitcoin.

However, the twins’ project has been reportedly greeted with a lukewarm response amid fears that it would be too difficult for the banks and trading firms to make a profit from such a venture.

"Bitcoin itself is not even a developed market, let alone to build an ETF on top of it," Reginald Browne, managing director at KCG Holdings, told the Financial Times.

Investors have rushed to use around 3,400 ETFs over the last few years in order to invest their money into a diverse range of assets. However the twins, who claim to own 1% of all Bitcoin, would be behind the first ETF dealing in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin was developed back in 2009 as a way to transfer wealth electronically and anonymously, with the value of a single bitcoin soaring from pennies to $ as a "cryptocurrency". A single bitcoin has tended to fluctuate wildly in value, with changes from 60p to £60 in a single day.

The Winklevoss twins plan to sell 1m shares, giving the fund an overall value of $20 million. Investors would be set to get one fifth of a Bitcoin for each ETF share bought.

The Winklevoss came to fame after suing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for $140 million in 2004, alleging that he stole their ConnectU idea as the model for Facebook. They reached a settlement in 2008 for a reported $65 million.

Although it emerged after Facebook floated on the stock market that the Winklevoss twins were understood to have been awarded 1.2m shares in Facebook, which were potentially worth over £300 million.

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