First Round: Band of brothers

Amid all the hullabaloo over Facebook’s exorbitant valuation (which admittedly seems to getting less exorbitant by the hour, at time of writing), First Round would like you to spare a thought for the real victims of its remarkable success story: Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.

As students of Facebook history (or anyone who’s seen The Social Network) will know, the Winklevii have spent the last 3000 years trying to convince the world that Facebook was actually their idea all along – and as such they should be entitled to a healthy chunk of Mark Zuckerberg’s Croesus-like riches. 

Now First Round doesn’t claim to understand the ins and outs of the legal wrangling (indeed, First Round doesn’t claim to understand anything much). But it’s not hard to feel sorry for Tyler and Cameron, who have (reportedly) been forced to settle  for a mere  $60-odd million of Zuck’s bucks – to go with their inherited family wealth, Harvard education, Olympian physiques and chiselled good looks. A tragic tale, without a doubt. 

But perhaps there’s a happy ending on the cards? The Winklevii recently announced on CNBC TV show Squawk Box that they’re getting into private equity: apparently they’ve started a new venture firm – called, imaginatively, Winklevoss Capital – that will focus on “early-stage, disruptive startups”, according to Tyler (or maybe Cameron).

You can’t blame them for trying. After all, nothing prepares you for a career in professional investing like spending your entire twenties arguing with lawyers, messing around on rowing boats and going to parties on the Upper East Side. Besides, as Cameron (or maybe Tyler) pointed out on CNBC: “We do have the experience. We were there at the beginning of the web 2.0.” The web 2.0? Well in that case…

Anyway, the good news is that they’re so loaded that they won’t need to sweet-talk external LPs. $60 million may be the equivalent to Zuckerberg of First Round finding a couple of coppers down the back of its sofa – but it should be enough to buy lots of overpriced stakes in Silicon Valley firms that may well see them coming a mile off (not difficult, with those jawlines).

That said, First Round would advise entrepreneurs to tread carefully. Rumour has it they’re quite litigious if things go pear-shaped.