Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss at the start of the men's pair final during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing. The twins have started a venture capital fund and are looking to establish an office in L.A.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss — the Harvard-grad Olympic-rowing twins who infamously jousted in court with Mark Zuckerberg over who really had the core idea for Facebook — have begun the post-Facebook lives. Sort of. Their post-Facebook lives are being funded by an estimated $65-million cash-and-stock settlement the received from suing Zuckerberg and Facebook.
With that dough, they're started a venture-capital fund, Winklevoss Capital, and as the Wall Street Journal reports, joined forces with their old Harvard classmate Divya Narendra on an initial $1-million investment in an semi-exclusive stock research site called SumZero.
But they might also be spending some time apart. The Winklevii just bought a house in Hollywood last month for $18 million, reported Canyon News:
Tyler Winklevoss will remain in the 8,000 square foot home as they launch the West Wing of their venture capital company.... Cameron will remain mainly in New York City, where they have signed a five-year lease for their company's office.
The two-story modern home with a jetliner view of Los Angeles was recently constructed as the house that had been on the lot before was bulldozed and modified. It is reported that the Winklevoss twins are in Los Angeles because they believe it is currently a great place for techies instead of Silicon Valley, where many firms are located.
If you're doing the math at home, $18 million would consume the lion's share of the $20 million cash component of their Facebook settlement. But that's if they paid cash, which they probably didn't. Still, if Tyler (and maybe on occasion Cameron) is putting some chips down on L.A.'s burgeoning startup scene, it's an....well, let's just say an interesting vote of confidence in the funding environment here. The Winklevii may feel thay they have a better chance of standing out here than in Silicon Valley, where the VC ecosystem is well-established.
So what kind of VCs will they be? It's unclear. They didn't provide much information in this CNBC "Squawk Box" interview in April, before the Facebook IPO. We don't know how big their fund actually is — although if it's around $60 million, it would be a relatively modest fund capable of making a few stand-alone investments and maybe joining bigger VC firms in others investments.
Their investment thesis doesn't really amount to much beyond "investing in early stage companies that will be disruptive." The website is pretty skimpy at the monent: it consists of three twitter feeds, the company's, Cameron's, and Tyler's (for the record, Tyler has slightly more followers).
And why L.A.? SumZero may provide a clue or two. It's full services are open only to buy-side investors, such as private equity firms and hedge funds. Wall Street investment banks need not apply. So maybe the Winklevii are hoping to leverage their celebrity to make waves with L.A. private-equity shops and off-the-grid hedge funders? An early-stage $18-million real-estate investment — their biggest so far — must mean they have something in mind.