News Column

Winklevoss Twins Talk Social Media, Business

April 3, 2013

Deneesha Edwards, The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C.

Social networking moguls and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss shed a little light Wednesday at Davidson County Community College on their side of the story behind the Facebook scandal that made international headlines.

The Winklevoss twins are known for HarvardConnection, which later was renamed ConnectU. It was created in 2004 with Harvard University classmate Divya Nardenra. That same year they sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claiming he stole their ConnectU idea when he created his popular social networking website.

"We always like social networks," Tyler said. "It's here to stay. It's like a white pages online."

Cameron said while in college they realized they had not met a lot of people on campus. They wanted a solution to meet other people at their school and also at the other nearby colleges and universities. Cameron said the college's email addresses were used at that time to verify that the user was an actual person.

"We were trying to solve a problem we had on our campus. A lot of people had this problem," he said.

Several students were involved in the development of the social media site. The problem arose when everyone didn't fall through on their partnership, Cameron said. They stressed that building a good team is important as well as understanding the strengths and weaknesses of everyone.

"It's hard if you have the right production and business plan, but not the right team," Cameron said.

Tyler added, "We always had hurdles. You want get off the ground without the right team."

It was reported that the twins received at least $65 million from the lawsuit. Tyler emphasized that it was not about the money. He said the case involved a partnership, broken agreement and betrayal of a teammate.

A question was asked why did the brothers not retire on an island somewhere versus working and investing in companies. Both Cameron and Tyler graduated from Harvard in 2004 with a bachelor of arts degrees in economics and later a masters in business administration from Oxford University in 2010.

"Money is the score card. The game is what were really interested in," Cameron said.

They also gave advice on being enterprisers or working in the business field. The brothers told the students that being simple is sometimes the best.

"We went out and made it happen for ourself," Tyler said. "Sometimes the simplest things make all the difference. Once you make that first step, everything else is possible."

Nearly 90 people attended the last campus speaker series in the conference center, sponsored by the Office of Student Life and Leadership, that is designed to bring a variety of speakers to the college to engage students and community members on thought-provoking, motivational, educational and entertaining issues.

"Our society today relies on social networking for communication, connecting with friends and family and much more," says Lynne Watts, director of student life and leadership at DCCC. "Our students and community will have the opportunity to not only learn about their history with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ... but also learn business savvy from these two successful brothers and entrepreneurs."



Source: (c)2013 The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C. Distributed by MCT Information Services


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