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Winklevoss twins' advice to Zuckerberg: Work with regulators

Key Points
  • The Winklevoss twins said they expect other technology heavyweights to launch products similar to Facebook's Libra.
  • Still, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss said they're positive on the tech giant's cryptocurrency bet.
  • Asked what advice they'd offer Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he and his team prepare for next week's Senate hearing, Tyler says it comes down to cooperating with lawmakers.
VIDEO9:2009:20
Winklevoss Twins: Bitcoin is Gold 2.0

The Winklevoss twins are at it again with more bullishness on crypto currencies.

Despite Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss' tumultuous relationship with Facebook, they were positive on the tech giant's cryptocurrency bet, Libra.

″[Libra] is very positive for crypto, a company the stature of Facebook talking about crypto currencies demystifies the word and makes people feel a lot more comfortable," Tyler told CNBC in an exclusive interview at New York's 92nd Street Y on Tuesday night.

The twins, who reportedly had discussions with Facebook prior to the Libra announcement, said they expect other technology heavyweights to launch similar products.

"Our prediction is every FANG company will have some sort of crypto currency project within the next two years," Tyler said.

Cameron (L) and Tyler (R) Winklevoss.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

When asked what advice they would offer Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he and his team prepare for next week's Senate hearing, Tyler said it comes down to cooperating with lawmakers.

"Work with regulators," he said. "Talk with them. You know, we definitely went through the front door, and we tried to educate the regulators and shape the regulation in a thoughtful manner because if you get the regulation wrong it can stifle innovation, but the right regulation allows for innovation to flourish, and we think we have achieved that right balance with New York."

Whether the twins, who now run cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, will use Libra is still unclear. "We'll keep evaluating, but at Gemini we ask for permission not forgiveness and that has really been our ethos since day one," said Cameron.

Facebook's Libra announcement raised questions as to whether it would heighten competition with the Winkelvoss brothers, who have been relentlessly working since 2014 on bringing new crypto products to the market. Some analysts have pointed out that Libra is similar to the Gemini Dollar, a so-called stable coin launched by the twins last year.

"We actually think it's a very interesting trade because Libra as we know it is a basket ... it is tied to assets that are stable whereas Gemini dollar is a one-to-one peg so we think there is a use case for both types of instruments, they are not apples to apples," said Tyler. "I think that a bitcoin-Libra trade pairing or a Libra-Gemini dollar could actually be quite interesting."

The brothers say they remain focused on building Gemini to better compete in what is quickly becoming a highly competitive space. Gemini recently plucked five engineers from rival Coinbase to work in a new Chicago office.

″[Our goal] is expansion, global expansion ... we continue to build our mobile app and probably will be adding more assets by year end," said Cameron.

As to their thesis on bitcoin, the twins said they still see opportunity even with the emergence of stable coins like Libra and the J.P. Morgan's own digital currency.

"Our thesis is that bitcoin is gold 2.0 and so until it has a market cap of $7 trillion, which is the size of gold, it's a very under-valued asset, so I think people are waking up to that," said Tyler.

The Winklevoss brothers shared the same prediction that bitcoin is gold 2.0 with CNBC in December 2017 — right before the cryptocurrency crashed from its all-time highs.

Additionally, a number of gold analysts told CNBC they remain cautious about comparing bitcoin to gold, referencing the recent price fluctuations and volatility in the cryptocurrency. So far this year, bitcoin has gained over 240%.

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Watch: Winklevoss twins think Libra is 'very positive' for crypto

VIDEO3:0503:05
Why the Winklevoss twins think Facebook's Libra is 'very positive' for crypto