As a regular attendee to the ZURBSoapBox speaker series, I had a special kind of curiosity around last Friday’s guests: the Winklevoss twins–made famous or perhaps infamous through their historic interaction around the founding of Facebook. Having seen the likes of Ron Conway, Ev Williams, Aaron Levie among others, I have to admit the Winklevoss’ did not exactly bring the same kind of cachet, but still attracted an overflowing audience eager to hear the straight scoop.
At first, you can’t help notice just how huge these guys are. Think Michelangelo’s statue of David and you get the idea of the kind of imposing figure these guys cut. But when I first met them and shook their hands, they really came off as genuine, regular guys, easily approachable and generally happy to be in front of their first Silicon Valley crowd for an informal chat.
The topics ranged from their background, upbringing, their new venture fund, investing approach and where they plan to spend their time (the tech/media triangle of New York, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley). If you recall, news broke recently that the twins were setting up shop in Los Angeles, having just spent $18 million of their Facebook cash on a luxurious mansion. They also spoke of the sports metaphor, especially rowing, and how tightly it crosses over into their business philosophy. But the crowd was particularly focused, understandably so, on their history with Zuckerberg and how or how well The Social Network movie reflected factual history (it did not). When asked about the legendary meeting with Larry Summers, then President of Harvard, that was one area where it was pretty much accurately depicted. They characterized his attitude as ‘dismissive’. There were a few more juicy tidbits around the early days of Facebook and the movie but the atmosphere was generally very positive, lighthearted and mildly entertaining.
Since their latest attempt at settlement, the twins have been pretty busy trying to get their latest technology startup off the ground. But rather than creating a copy of Facebook, they’ve decided to do something else with their earnings–invest in companies. Their voyage in being venture capitalists probably was going to be what they had in mind to talk about at their event, but that didn’t necessarily turn out to be the case. Regarding their investment fund, they were vague on details, fell back on a few buzzwords about cloud, fashion, early stage startups and such. A quick search in Winklevoss Capital does not turn up much, no Twitter handle or even a website. So suffice it to say, their fund is an early stage work in progress itself and it will be very interesting to see how this next chapter in their lives plays out.
The entire session of their talk has been archived. You can listen to the whole interview, conducted by Zurb’s Ryan Riddle, here.