Cameron and I recently did a two-part interview with Semil Shah while he was guest-editing StrictlyVC. We discussed our strategy as angel investors, our thoughts on the future of Bitcoin and the impact of of a certain pop culture portrayal. We wanted to share excerpts from both interviews. Enjoy!
You are both well-known for a variety of things now. Briefly catch us up on all of your activities. What are you both focused on for 2015?
Sure. Over the last two years, Cameron and I have been focused on building Winklevoss Capital. Prior to this, we were elite athletes for close to 15 years. After retiring in 2012, we decided we wanted to get back into the startup game and investing seemed like a natural entry point. For the past two-plus years we been spending a lot of time building a strong network of fellow investors and promising entrepreneurs. We’ve been fine-tuning our filters to what we like and don’t like, and developing our overall investment thesis. Most importantly, we’ve been investing a lot. Our portfolio now comprises more than 40 companies and is growing by the day.
Our main focus for the coming year will be in Bitcoin and growing our overall angel portfolio. In the Bitcoin world, we will continue or joint role as both investors and entrepreneurs. We believe there will be some great opportunities in the infrastructure company layer, as well as some promising application layer startups. We will be working on the Bitcoin ETF and improving the WinkDex, the Bitcoin price index we launched in February, which will be used to price the Bitcoin ETF.
In the non-Bitcoin world, we will continue to place bets on strong entrepreneurs. We’ve found a lot of great teams attacking compelling problems in the logistics, human operations, smart home, consumer packaged goods and security spaces. We’ll keep our ears to the ground in those spheres but also be on the lookout for other secular trends that start to emerge.
Many people in tech and startups know your name but may have an impression of you based on movies and press stories. What’s one thing you wish people knew about you that you feel is misunderstood?
I think most people in tech and startups today actually know us through the investments we’ve made, the projects we’re working on, or their own first-hand experience in meeting or working with us. Over the past two years we’ve met with hundreds of entrepreneurs, attended many demo days, and keynoted at TechCrunch Disrupt, the Bitcoin 2013 Conference, and Money20/20, to name a few. We’ve co-invested with many top valley investors, built what we believe to be a strong portfolio, and have worked very hard to bring value beyond capital to entrepreneurs we’ve partnered with. Chances are, if you are a part of the tech ecosystem in either Silicon Valley, Los Angeles or New York, you know us or know someone who really does knows us, and this informs your impression of us, not a Hollywood movie.
That being said, “The Social Network” was a fantastic film and it was a lot of fun to watch its success. It was certainly an interesting time back then, but we never got too caught up in it. We couldn’t. Our focus was on training for the Olympics. Today, we’ve traded athletics for Bitcoin and angel investing. The fact that we were portrayed in a film that won some Oscars and almost won for Best Picture is a cool piece of history, but it’s not really relevant to our daily lives. I feel the same way about graduating from Harvard and Oxford and competing in the Olympic Games. I’m proud of these accomplishments, but I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. They’re in the past and just not directly related to what I’m trying to accomplish these days.
As for what the crowd understands or misunderstands, your guess is as good as mine. At the end of the day, impressions drawn from a movie or a movie portrayal, either right or wrong, live in a parallel universe of pop-culture. This is not a universe that I live in so I don’t spend much time analyzing it.