Facebook’s upcoming IPO is the moment a couple of young, enterprising entrepreneurs have been waiting for. And no, I don’t mean the company’s founders. By the looks of it, Mark Zuckerberg, who has been known to lead a spartan lifestyle, living in a rented house with no TV until about a year ago despite being one of the nation’s richest people, cares less about the personal riches to come out of Facebook’s success than another interested party, the Winklevoss twins.
Zuckerberg’s former Harvard classmates became a famous part of the Facebook narrative by continuously suing the company in one fashion or another since 2004, claiming that Zuckerberg stole the idea from their Harvard project Connect U.
Despite relentlessly shaking the money tree for the better part of a decade, a judge ruled in June of last year that the 2008 settlement the Winklevii won would be final. Since 2008, the twins had been back on the litigation path, claiming their settlement should have been higher, and that they were deceived about the value of the company in 2008.
The settlement they received back then was for $20 million in cash, plus $45 million in stock. After they tried to sue their lawyers for not getting them a higher settlement, a judge finally ruled against the twins and ordered them to pay the $13 million in legal fees it owed the firm.
That left the Winklevii with $7 million in cash—$3.5 each. Not a bad payday for most of us, but for a couple of guys who grew up in Greenwich, CT and Southampton, NY, it probably felt like just another drop in the bucket.
The only real hope for the twins was one day being able to cash out that $45 million in stock.
Back in 2008, after the twins learned that the company was worth a whopping $1 billion, they felt they’d been low balled—steamrolled by Zuckerberg once again. Their $45 million in stock was a pittance. But with Facebook’s IPO, expected to hit the market as soon as next week at a mind-bending $100 billion, the Winklevoss twins’ stock should theoretically be worth $450 million.
$225 million a piece? Even for a couple of Greenwich guys, that’s an insane windfall. That’s family dynasty money.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Winklevii’s tenacious application of torture by litigation is finally paying off. Their days of appearing in Pistachios commercials are probably over. Probably.