It's been nearly a month since Gemini, the crypto exchange founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss — otherwise known as the Winklevii, or the towering billionaire twins of "being completely screwed over by Mark Zuckerberg" fame — halted customer withdrawals, a direct result of fellow exchange FTX's collapse into bankruptcy.
If very recent history repeats itself, it's unlikely that Gemini's users, who The Financial Times reported last week are owed a collective $900 million, will ever get their money back.
Now, perhaps too little too late, former employees are sounding the alarm, explaining to The Daily Beast that the writing was on the wall.
Or, at the very least, the writing was in both the bold and small print of Gemini's "Earn" accounts, the exchange's high-yield savings accounts, which one former employee says prioritized Gemini revenue over customer safety.
"The business makes money on fees, so how do you get more fees? You invent a new product. I think that was the overall sentiment inside the company," one unnamed ex-employee told the Beast, adding that when he and others first read the product's terms and conditions back in 2021, "[we] were like, 'Holy shit, are you fucking kidding me?'"
Gemini's Earn accounts, which promised users that their funds could be redeemed "at any time," seemed straightforward. Hand Gemini your digital assets, and through its lending partner Genes it would make you money. The model is depressingly similar to those of the high-yield accounts offered by fellow crypto firms Celsius, Voyager Digital, and FTX, all of which have:
• Filed for bankruptcy within the past six months.
• Are yet to return user funds.
• Are currently being sued. (FTX and Voyager, it's worth noting, are both specifically being sued over their high-yield accounts, which plaintiffs claim were sold as unregistered securities.)
All to say: were the accounts risky? Sure. But according to another former employee, the Winklevii downplayed any potential danger.
"Gemini definitely sold [the Earn program] as like, 'It's hassle-free. It's easy. Get your crypto back right away, no delays," Nick Fuhrmann, a former Gemini data engineer, told the Beast. Though he left the company in November 2020, Fuhrmann remained an Earn account user, and is one of the many Gemini investors struggling to get his money back. "It kind of came across as less of a risk, at least to me."
Indeed, Gemini's marketing language was distinctly optimistic. The company took a sort of "I'm not like other girls" approach, noting on the product's homepage that "unlike other opportunities to earn interest on your cryptocurrency, you can redeem and move your cryptocurrency back to your trading account (plus interest) at any time!"
Alas, a lofty promise, and one it seems that Gemini was unable to keep. While they've promised Earn users that "returning [user] funds" is their "highest priority," their official bankruptcy, along with that of Genesis, may well be imminent.
In the meantime, we're glad they have their "hard-hitting rock band" Mars Junction to fall back on. Between potential bankruptcy and furious users, it's good to have a supportive hobby — although, as a quick scroll through Mars Junction Instagram comments might suggest, the optics of another Mars Junction Coping Tour maybe wouldn't be so great.
"Maybe instead of focusing on your shitty band," wrote one deservedly angry netizen, "you should be focusing on how to get Gemini customers their money back."
READ MORE: Billionaire Winklevoss Twins' $900M Disaster Is No Shock [The Daily Beast]