Become a Bitcoin millionaire: Rich like Zuckerberg and Co

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Text comes from: Bitcoin-Milliardäre. Eine wahre Geschichte über Genie, Verrat und Genugtuung (2020) by Ben Mezrich, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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How do you get rich - a question that concerns many people. Anyone looking for answers has to look at the lives of other rich people.

Become a Bitcoin millionaire: Rich like Zuckerberg and Co

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Ben Mezrich studied at Harvard University and writes for various newspapers and magazines. He is the author of eight books that have sold a total of over 1 million copies and have been translated into nine languages, including the bestseller The Founding of Facebook, on which the Oscar-winning film The Social Network is based.


From the author:

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Best of HR Berufebilder


Hollywood Knocks: The template for the film “The Social Network”

In 2010 my book “Billionaire by Chance” was published. The creation of Facebook, which was soon filmed under the title The Social Network. It would never be me in those days Sense I would one day come back to two characters in this story: Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the identical twins who fought with Mark Zuckerberg and contested the origins of one of the most powerful companies in the world.

In the world where the billionaire appeared by chance, Facebook was the revolution, and Mark Zuckerberg the revolutionary. He overturned the social order, the way people interacted, met, communicated, fell in love and lived together. The Winklevoss brothers were perfect opponents: buttoned »Harvardians«, privileged Spacken who represented the »Establishment« in many ways and quite obviously. Things are different now. Mark Zuckerberg is an established name. Facebook is omnipresent and dominates large parts of the Internet (despite constant scandals that involve stolen user data, fake news and political manipulations, among other things). Meanwhile, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have surprisingly reappeared in the news as the leader of a whole new digital revolution. I don't miss the irony of it all. Zuckerberg and the twins switched roles of rebellion and empire, but not only that. My book and the resulting film have canonized an image of the twins that needs urgent revision.

Become a billionaire: in the right place at the right time

In my opinion it is no coincidence that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss were in the right place twice at the right time. In literature as in life, there is rarely a second act. In the case of the Winklevoss twins, it looks as if the second act will sooner or later overshadow the first. Bitcoin and the technology behind it have the potential to turn the Internet upside down. Just as Facebook was developed so that our social relationships could move from the physical world to the Internet, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin were developed for a financial world that today largely works online. The technology behind Bitcoin is neither a fad nor a bubble or a trick. It represents a fundamental paradigm shift that will eventually change everything.

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February 22, 2008. Twentieth floor of an unremarkable office tower on the edge of San Francisco's financial district. The usual cubes cut from glass, steel and concrete, air-conditioned, brightly lit cubes. Eggshell-colored walls, office beige carpets. Neon tubes that crossed the tic-tac-toe grid of the false ceilings. Glubbering water dispensers, conference tables with chrome strips, adjustable leatherette chairs. It was just after three on a Friday afternoon. Tyler Winklevoss was standing in front of a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of a pincushion made of similar office buildings that were stuck in the midday mist. He tried to drink filter water from a paper-thin, disposable cup without spilling too much of it on his tie. After so many days, months, oh what! - Years ago the tie was hardly necessary. The longer this torture dragged on, the more likely it was that he would eventually show up in his Olympic rowing jacket for the next endless session. He managed to taste the water just before the mug gave way under his fingers, and the trickle missed his tie but soaked the sleeve of his shirt. He threw the mug in a trash can by the window and shook out the wet cuff. “That is also on the list. Paper cups in the shape of ice cream cones. Which sadist just made it up? "" Maybe the one who invented this lighting. I've been two steps browner since they put us on this floor. I bet purgatory is made of neon lights. ”

Position war: On the way to world domination

Tyler's brother Cameron lounged on two of the faux leather armchairs at the far end of the room, his long legs resting on the edge of a rectangular conference table. He was wearing a blazer but no tie. One of his size 48 leather shoes was dangerously close to the screen of Tyler's open laptop, but Tyler overlooked it. The day had been long. Tyler knew that boredom was intentional. An out-of-court settlement was different from a lawsuit. The latter was a position war in which two parties fought their way to victory - what mathematicians and economists would call zero-sum games. Trials had ups and downs, but primal forces lurked beneath the surface; it was essentially war. It was different with an arbitration procedure. If it was done well, there would be no winners or losers, but only two parties who had reached a compromise solution and were now said to "split the child." Arbitration did not feel like war, but rather like a very long bus journey that only ended when all the passengers were so fed up with the landscape that they could agree on a destination.

"Strictly speaking," Tyler said, turning back to the window and the familiar gray-gray of Northern California's afternoon, "we're not the ones in purgatory." As soon as the lawyers were out, Tyler and Cameron went out of their way in order not to deal with her case. It was different at first. At first, the feeling of anger and cheating had been so great that they could hardly think of anything else. But as the weeks turned into months, they realized that anger is not conducive to sanity. The lawyers kept saying that they had to trust the system. So when they were alone, they talked about something other than what brought them here, if possible.

Like Dante in the circle of hell

The fact that they came to speak of medieval literature, more precisely to Dante's idea of ​​the different circles of hell, was a sign of the softening of avoidance tactics. Her trust in the system had apparently led her to a Dantesque hell circle. After all, they had some distraction. When he was growing up in Connecticut, Tyler and Cameron had been obsessed with Latin. When there were no courses available for them in the final year, they wrestled a seminar on Latin from the Middle Ages, which the head teacher of Latin, a Jesuit priest, conducted. Together the brothers and the priest translated the Confessions of St. Augustine and other medieval writings. Dante hadn't written his most famous work in Latin, but Tyler and Cameron knew enough Italian to jestle the inferno: water dispensers, fluorescent lights, whiteboards ... lawyers. “Actually,” said Tyler, “we're in the limbus. He is in the purgatory. We haven't done anything wrong. ”

Suddenly there was a knock. One of her own lawyers, Peter Calamari, was the first to enter. His high hairline framed a protruding forehead and a too small, soft chin. The palm-pattern shirt was sloppy in the waistband of a pair of jeans that was so big that he walked in it weirdly. Tyler wouldn't have been surprised if the label was still on it. Worse, Calamari really wore sandals. Probably bought where he got his jeans from. The mediator came in behind the lawyer. Antonio "Tony" Piazza cut a much more impressive figure. He was slim, almost skinny, and flawlessly dressed in a suit and tie. His graying hair was short and neatly shaved, his cheeks appropriately tanned.

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The master of meditation

In the press, Piazza was considered the "master of mediation". He had successfully resolved more than four thousand complicated disagreements, supposedly had a photographic memory and was also a martial arts expert - he thought he had learned from aikido how to channel aggressions into something productive. Piazza was never tired of getting. He was actually the perfect bus driver for this seemingly endless journey. Before the door closed behind the two lawyers, Cameron had taken his feet off the table. "Did he consent?" The question was addressed to Piazza. In the past few weeks, Calamari, a partner in the swanky Quinn Emanuel law firm, had seemed more like a messenger between them and the aikido master. With his loose jeans and sandals, he was looking for a connection to Silicon Valley, but in Cameron's eyes the lawyer made a joke of it.

He shouldn't be here at all. Calamari was the agent for Rick Werder Jr., who was in charge of the case and had to cancel at the last minute, instead to help a company go through the $ 2 billion bankruptcy process. Although the fate of Winklevoss's case rested on his shoulders alone, Werder had not appeared for arbitration, the all-important moment of the case. Probably the deal he was chasing seemed bigger and better. The twins had hired Quinn Emanuel to strengthen their team of lawyers when the preliminary investigation ended and the trial was about to begin. Founded in 1986 by John B. Quinn, the company was known for its tough litigation lawyers who dealt exclusively with economic disputes and arbitration. The law firm had done pioneering work by dispensing with a formal dress code - unheard of in the world of posh businesses. This innovation was to blame for Calamari's fashionable total loss. "He didn't refuse," said Piazza, "but he's worried." Tyler looked at his brother. The suggestion they had made was originally Cameron's idea. After all the back and forth of lawyers - with piazza in the middle, as a silvery sphinx looking for points of contact - Cameron had wondered if the brimborium could not simply be left out. They were actually three students who had met not long ago in the cafeteria. Couldn't you sit together, just three, without lawyers, and discuss the matter? "What concerns?" Cameron asked. Piazza hesitated. "Security concerns." It took Tyler a moment to figure out what the man was saying. His brother rose from the armchair. "He thinks we'd punch him in?" Cameron asked. "Really?" Tyler felt his cheeks flush. "That's a joke, is not it?"

Her lawyer approached soothingly. "What matters is that apart from the security concerns, he can have the idea." "Seriously," Tyler said. 'He thinks we're going to beat him up? In the middle of arbitration? An arbitration attorney's office. ”Piazza's face remained motionless, but his voice dropped - in such a calming tone that you could fall asleep. 'Let's stick to it. In theory, he agreed to the meeting. It's all about the details. ”“ Do you want to chain us to the water dispenser? ”Cameron asked. “Does he feel safer then?” “It won't be necessary. At the end of the hall is a meeting room with glass walls. The meeting can take place there. Only one of you goes into the one-to-one conversation. The rest of us stay outside and watch. ”It was completely absurd. Tyler felt like he was being treated like a wild animal. Security concerns. The word felt like it came from him. It sounded like something only he would say. Maybe it was a trick too; that it was physically safer for him to speak to only one of them was almost as ridiculous as the idea that they would want to beat him up, but maybe he thought he had some intellectual advantage in a one-to-one conversation .

The most surreal moment in life

The twins felt that he disliked her from the start because of her looks. For him, they had always been the coolest people on campus. Stupid sports cannons who couldn't even program, who had to have their website built by a nerd. A website that only he, the young genius, could have invented - or rather: should have invented. Because if they had been the inventors, they would have invented them. According to this logic, it was clear, of course, that they would punch him in as soon as they had him in front of them. Tyler closed his eyes and collected himself. Then he shrugged. "Cameron goes in." His brother had always been the softer, less alpha animal, more willing to bend when bending was the only choice. This was undoubtedly the case here. "Like in a tiger cage," Cameron said as they followed Piazza and the lawyer out into the hall. “Hold the stun gun at the ready. If you see me going to his throat, do me a favor and aim at the blazer. It belongs to my brother. ”Neither lawyer nor conciliator showed the slightest amusement.

When Cameron Winklevoss entered the glass case forty minutes later, it was one of the most surreal moments in his life. Mark Zuckerberg was already sitting at the long, rectangular table in the middle of the room. At one meter seventy, the billionaire seemed to be enthroned on an extra-high seat cushion. Somewhat embarrassed, Cameron closed the glass door behind him; on the other side of the window he saw Tyler and the lawyer take a seat. Piazza could be seen further down the hall, behind him were Zuckerberg's lawyers, an army of suit-wearers. He knew most of them; Neel Chatterjee of the Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP law firm would never have escaped him, who was so eager to protect his precious clients (and so devoted to everything the twins had to say about him) that he was at a panel discussion to which the twins were speaking were invited to an internet conference in 2008, probably in the audience, to hear what they said.

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Facebook is launched

Chatterjee and the rest of the lawyers had pulled out notepads, and Cameron wondered what they were going to write down. The glass wall made a soundproof impression and none of those present could read lips, as far as they knew. The conversation should take place between him and Zuckerberg: no intermediaries, no lawyers, no listeners, no meddlers. Zuckerberg didn't look up as Cameron went to the other end of the conference table. The strange shiver that struck Cameron had nothing to do with the overzealous air conditioning. It was the first time in four years that he saw his former fellow Harvard students again. Cameron first met Zuckerberg in the Kirkland refectory in October 2003. He, Tyler, and their boyfriend Divya Narendra had sat down with him to discuss the social network they'd built over the past year. In the following three months, the four had met several times in Zuckerberg's dorm room and discussed their project in over fifty emails. But without the twins and Narendra knowing, Zuckerberg had secretly started working on another social network. He registered their domain on January 11, 2004, four days before their third meeting on January 15.

And three weeks later, on February 4, 2004, he launched Cameron, Tyler and Divya only found out about this from the university newspaper, Harvard Crimson. As a result, Cameron asked Zuckerberg by email. Zuckerberg's answer: »If you would like to talk about it, I would be willing to meet you alone. Let me know… ”Cameron hadn't given that up, for he seemed to have had his trust irrevocably destroyed; what would an argument with someone who acted like that bring? The only thing left for them in Cameron's eyes was to rely on the system - first by appealing to the administration that Harvard Rector Larry Summers should step in and enforce the code of honor, which, according to the student handbook, was intended to determine cooperation at the university. When that failed, they reluctantly turned to the judiciary - and now, four long years later, they were here ... Cameron had come to the table and let his oversized body sink onto one of the chairs before finally looking up and feeling embarrassed Gave a hint of a smile. It was incredibly difficult to judge someone who had no discernible facial expressions, but in the way Zuckerberg rocked forward and held his feet under the table, Cameron felt a hint of nervousness, a hint of human emotion. Surprisingly, Zuckerberg didn't wear his typical gray hoodie; apparently he was taking it seriously now. Zuckerberg nodded to Cameron and murmured some kind of greeting. For the next ten minutes, Cameron talked mostly. He started with an offer of peace. He congratulated Mark on his success in the few years after Harvard. For the conversion and expansion of - an initially small, exclusive community of networked Harvard students - to Facebook, a global phenomenon that first spreads from university to university, then from country to country and only then millions, then billions of users had bound themselves, who revealed their private and intimate lives in words and pictures. In the meantime, this network comprised more than a fifth of all earth dwellers and continued to grow unchecked.

The Harvard Connection

Cameron kept the obvious behind the mountain: He, Tyler and Divya were absolutely convinced that Facebook had grown out of their idea, from a website that was first called Harvard Connection and was later renamed ConnectU. It was a separate social network that was designed to make it easier for college students to get in touch. The Harvard Connection came to Cameron, Tyler and Divya because they were frustrated by the increasingly tight campus life. The first year was a big melting pot. In the very first week, Divya ran into Harvard Yard Cameron and invited him to play the electric guitar in his dorm room. From that day on, they were great friends. But over time, these random social collisions had become less common because everyone was getting busy. It was not easy to expand the circle of friends beyond the limits of your own dormitory, your own sports team or your own subject.

The twins and Divya saw a maladministration and they went to fix it. Harvard Connection or ConnectU was to become a virtual campus where student life could flourish without the physical obstacles and impenetrable social barriers of the offline world. An eternal first semester, only that everyone was older and wiser and the youth would not be wasted on the young. In spring 2003 the code was almost complete; however, the original programmer, Sanjay Mavinkurve, was graduating with the prospect of a job at Google in California. So the twins and Divya had to hire someone else to finish the website. Victor Gao worked on it throughout the summer, but at the beginning of the semester, his bachelor's thesis took up too much, so he had to stop. He made contact with a second year computer scientist who seemed interested in commercial projects. At this point in time, the ConnectU software was designed to classify users based on their email address. For example, if someone registered with an address ending in, he or she would have been automatically assigned to the Harvard network. This should avoid the mess that occurs when everyone is packed into a network. Like a matryoshka doll, ConnectU should become a network of smaller subnets that also contained subnet networks and so on down to the individual.

Elites among themselves

Divya and the twins had set up ConnectU after they realized that the email address could not only identify a person like a digital ID, but also provide information about their social environment in real life. The Harvard administrator gave email addresses with the Harvard domain only to Harvard students. Goldman Sachs only gave addresses with @ to Goldman Sachs employees. If you had such an email address, you probably belonged to these circles in some way in real life. This design should give the ConnectU network a level of trustworthiness that other social networks such as Friendster or MySpace did not have. The users should be arranged so that they can find each other better and get to know each other in a more meaningful way. This was exactly the type of construction that the project had, which was to catapult the computer scientist they commissioned into world fame and domination over the Internet a short time later. In the eyes of the twins, the only networks Mark Zuckerberg knew about were computer networks. From their own social dealings with him, they had the impression that Mark preferred to communicate with machines rather than with people. Seen in this light, it was much more plausible to see the world's largest social network as an offspring of an unequal pairing between the twins and Zuckerberg, rather than Zuckerberg's own intellectual child. The idea of ​​the lonely genius who creates brilliant inventions all by himself was a film cliché, a Hollywood myth. In reality, the largest companies in the world were started by dynamic duos: Jobs and Wozniak,

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Brin and Page, Gates and Allen, the list was endless and, from Cameron's perspective, should have included Zuckerberg and Winklevoss. Or Winklevoss and Zuckerberg. As he sat at the conference table, Cameron had to admit to himself that Zuckerberg's achievements were really impressive. Whatever he took away from them, he had made a revolution of it. Somehow, this slender, pale boy with the cheap haircut had managed to change the world. And Cameron smeared that on his bread. He affirmed that Zuckerberg's creation was incredible and an innovation that only occurs once in every generation. When Cameron fell silent, Zuckerberg contributed congratulations. He was genuinely impressed that Cameron and Tyler had won the US rowing championship as students and would still participate in the Beijing Olympic Games later this summer as part of the American team. Cameron felt strangely reminded of the shy boy they had met in the dining room at the time. A socially inhibited computer geek who was happy to even have a glimpse of them. Cameron tried to scare away dark memories as he received the compliments. He didn't try to think of the feeling he'd had when reading the article on Zuckerberg's website. Meanwhile, the job title that Zuckerberg said on was, "Founder, supreme commander, and enemy of the state." Thief would have worked, Cameron thought. But such thoughts were of little help now. None of that mattered now.

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