At a Fortune conference earlier this week, Larry Summers said in an interview that he learned one invaluable lesson about people while running Harvard: “If an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an a**hole.” Summers was not speaking generally about assholes but two in particular, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who in 2004, complained to the then Harvard president that Mark Zuckerberg had stolen their idea for Facebook. In the Social Network, Summers is portrayed as being a bit brusque with the Winklevii, essentially to fuck off and go waste someone else’s time, a portrayal he has described as entirely accurate, and for which he makes no apology, on account of the asshole assessment. Apparently the twins caught wind of Summers’ comments and yesterday took the time to respond, via open letter. Spoiler alert: they’re not happy (with Summers’ lack of ‘tact,’ his refusal to shake their hands, the sight of his feet on his desk, and this ‘unprecedented betrayal’):

Dear President Faust,

We (Cameron Winklevoss ’04, Divya Narendra ’04 and Tyler Winklevoss ’04) are writing to discuss the recent remarks made by current Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard Lawrence H. Summers at Fortune’s “Brainstorm Tech Conference” on July 19, 2011. Specifically, Mr. Summers referred to us as “a—–” for wearing ties and jackets to our meeting with him in April of 2004. To be clear, his remark was not limited to us, but extends to any undergraduate who chooses a particular form of attire.

As a matter of background, on March 15, 2004 we petitioned the Administrative Board (Ad Board) of Harvard regarding a disciplinary issue concerning Mark Zuckerberg ’06-’07 in connection with the development of a website the four of us had been working on together. Despite what was, from our perspective, a clear violation of the Student Handbook, which states “all students will be honest and forthcoming in their dealings with members of [the Harvard] community,” the Ad Board declined to involve itself. As students of a university that promulgated an expectation of “intellectual honest[y] [and] respect for the dignity of others,” we sought a discussion with then President Summers regarding what we believed to be an inconsistency in the University’s posture on this matter.

As a result, we decided to attend student office hours of the President, a two hour monthly block of time specifically allotted by President Summers for students to discuss any and all matters of concern with him. We sent a polite and rather un-swaggering email beforehand for the purposes of background (please see attached). It should be noted that Mr. Zuckerberg’s name was purposely omitted from our email in an effort to focus the discussion on what we perceived to be a larger issue than the incident specific to ourselves. Simply put, we went to his office seeking advice and mentorship, not further conflict.

At office hours, we waited in his reception area but were told that we would have to return next month because there were more students in the queue than time allowed. In April of 2004, we returned to office hours and were successful in meeting with President Summers. His manner was not inconsistent with his reputation and present day admissions of being tactfully challenged. It was not his failure to shake hands with the three of us upon entering his office (doing so would have required him to take his feet off his desk and stand up from his chair), nor his tenor that was most alarming, but rather his scorn for a genuine discourse on deeper ethical questions, Harvard’s Honor Code, and its applicability or lack thereof.

We now further understand why our meeting was less than productive; someone who does not value ethics with respect to his own conduct, would likely have little interest in this subject as it related to the conduct of others. Perhaps there is a ‘variability of aptitude’ for decency and professionalism among university faculty.

Regardless, it is deeply disturbing that a professor of this university openly admits to making character judgments of students based on their appearance. It goes without saying that every student should feel free to bring issues forward, dress how they see fit, or express themselves without fear of prejudice or public disparagement from a fellow member of the community, much less so from a faculty member.

Ironically, our choice of attire that day was made out of respect and deference to the office of the President. As the current President, we respectfully ask for you to address this unprecedented betrayal of the unique relationship between teacher and student. We look forward to your response.


Cameron Winklevoss ’04 Divya Narendra ’04 Tyler Winklevoss ’04

Your move, Lar.

Winklevoss To Summers: You Are Tactfully Challenged [WSJ]

74 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (74)

  1. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 1:58 PM


  2. Posted by Sdkfsakl | July 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    I’m going to go with answer (c), they are all douchebags.u00a0

  3. Posted by CoveredLong | July 22, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    They’re absolutley right – still doesn’t change the fact that they, and Larry, are total douches.

  4. Posted by McKinsey Senior Douchebag | July 22, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    I applaud this direct approach to seek conflict resolution. Perhaps they could come work for us.

  5. Posted by Winkelvoss + Winkelvoss = | July 22, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    a) Winkiesnb) Winkelvossesnc) 2 Winkelvoss, 1 cupnd) Winkelvii

  6. Posted by Guess | July 22, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Reading this article gave me douche chills. helps me beat the heat.n

  7. Posted by Anonymous | July 22, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Writing a seven paragraph letter to claim you’re not anal and uptight makes perfect sense to me. u00a0

  8. Posted by Ooooh Yeah! | July 22, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    I hate their faces so much.u00a0 Their god damn stupid hair, obnoxious foreheads, and those fucking chins, jesus fucking christ, they have assholes on their chins.

  9. Posted by Tie Salesman | July 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    They will do anything to not work.u00a0 Put on a tie and go look for work you schmucks.u00a0 The gravy train has left the station.u00a0 Time to wake up and realize that crumb Zuckerberg tossed you is all you are going to get.u00a0

  10. Posted by Brian1284 | July 22, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    I stopped reading the letter when I hit the first douchy word “Winklevoss”. nnD. Faust

  11. Posted by Not a fan of LHS | July 22, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Larry Summers needs to identify the nearest cliff and promptly jump off it.

  12. Posted by Hamilton | July 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Your ego barriers will not get any of you invited to my fishing trip in the parking lot.nn- Mentor Dalio, HBS ’73

  13. Posted by Guess | July 22, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    only if cameron and tyler are coming with!

  14. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Introducing the world’s smallest violin…

  15. Posted by Dark Star | July 22, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    “It is deeply disturbing that a professor of this university openly admits to making character judgments of students based on their appearance.”u00a0nI agree, and hope Harvard lets me judge undergrads on the basis of taste and touch.

  16. Posted by Fuck Me | July 22, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    It pains me to admit that I truly agree with everything in this letter.

  17. Posted by Tungry | July 22, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    Would someone please infect these genetic monstrosities with Texas Big AIDS.u00a0 nnThank you in advance,nnEveryone

  18. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Take your damn settlement money and shut up you whiny bitches!nn-EBT Cardholder

  19. Posted by sour grapes | July 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Greenwich, Brunswick, Harvard, Crew… u00a0you need not concern yourself with their attire to know they fail the asshole assessment.

  20. Posted by Anonymous | July 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Be a manager!u00a0 Wear a tie!u00a0 “Would you like fries with that?”

  21. Posted by WallStreetFatCat | July 22, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Fuck all of you. I’m laughing all the way to the bank.nn- Zuckerberg

  22. Posted by HFguy | July 22, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    u00a0I have a very simple theory when it comes to investing in most companies especially in fashion tech stocks – it is all about who is running the show. Microsoft, Apple and Google all did good because it had kind smart people at the head who cared more about the concept than money. Money was just a by product of this. Facebook will be a dog with fleas since it is run by a stingy backstabbing low moral compass person like MZ who didnt think twice about fucking over lots of people in his quest for creating a social website. No wonder Facebook is always in a controversy about secretly coming up with ways to steal or impinge on user data and selling them to advertisers. Give it another 2 years and watch the facebook fad die. nn- End of rant

  23. Posted by Nocial Setwork | July 22, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Cameron Winklevoss: What, do you want to hire an IP lawyer and sue him? nDivya Narendra: No, I want to hire the Sopranos to beat the shit out of him with a hammer! nTyler Winklevoss: We don’t even have to do that. nCameron Winklevoss: That’s right. nTyler Winklevoss: We can do that ourselves. I’m 6’5″, 220, already know how to break inanimate objects with a hammer,u00a0there’s two of me, and we’re both pussies.

  24. Posted by Lbz360 | July 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    I see a bright future at UBS Human Resources for these two!

  25. Posted by The real Zuckerberg | July 22, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    wearing a bedazzled mesh thong

  26. Posted by Nocial Setwork | July 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Bill Gates didn’t do it for money?!?u00a0 So he backstabbed and stole ideas/products for shits and giggles?

  27. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    Sometimes the phrase “YOU’RE A PUSSY!” does not do justice.u00a0

  28. Posted by whydoihatethewinklevi | July 22, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Divya hopes some Greenwich rubs off on this Queens boy…

  29. Posted by Ebullient Emu | July 22, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Actually, I bet these guys are really down to earth.u00a0 Probably just being unfairly portrayed by the media.nn/Psychologist Quant CFA nn

  30. Posted by Larry | July 22, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    The Winklevii gave me the stinkeii

  31. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    “rather unswaggering” that phrase has to be the douchiest of the entire letter. Also may have to be incorporated into everyday usage.u00a0

  32. Posted by Anonymous | July 22, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    And he was wearing my Harvard tie!

  33. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    how is you hf doing tho?

  34. Posted by TedRube | July 22, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    How was Oxford?

  35. Posted by Larry | July 22, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    popped collars>tie and jacket

  36. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    hopefully it “did good”

  37. Posted by the_stupid_train | July 22, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    you must be NYO?

  38. Posted by Jaa | July 22, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    vast majority of people commenting here seem to be judging these 2 only because they don’t like their posh language usage/dress code/well-built body/whatever unjustified reason. Basically you are just being petty people passing judgement because ‘they are not one of us’. I’m surprised so many of you coming out of the movie theatre would think MZ was the nice guy, the movie plot did not exactly favour that path… I don’t see the Winkelvii doing anything wrong and they actually have some manners while going about it.

  39. Posted by mvp3 | July 22, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    writing a 7 paragraph letter to the new college pres to tell him that the old college pres didn’t touch you is the nki.n

  40. Posted by Clown Capital | July 22, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Winklevoss twins: “Does this letter make us look gay?”nnLarry Summers: “That’s part of it…”

  41. Posted by in love with pmco avatar | July 22, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    it just proves that Harvard had a bunch of douchebags

  42. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    “His manner was not inconsistent with his reputation”n”applicability or lack thereof”n”someone who does not value ethics with respect to his own conduct”nnThey sound like a parody of the way douchey Harvard kids might talk.u00a0 Turns out they actually do talk that way.

  43. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    Are you Tyler or Cameron?

  44. Posted by Miss Porter's Grad | July 22, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    These things don’t happen at North Dakota State.

  45. Posted by Texashedge | July 22, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    “the movie plot did not exactly favour”nnGo back to England, Pierre

  46. Posted by Theoretical Trading | July 22, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Keep firing, Assholes!

  47. Posted by Radcliffe wannabe | July 22, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    To wit: when I was at Dunster House and swaggering around campus, I always wore a jacket, Harvard tie, immense confidence, and my great-grandfather’s Harvard ’92 (that’s 1892) ring, and felt that the world was my oyster. u00a0Now that I’ve been out in the real world things have changed: I live on the UES, I swagger wherever the fuck I want, and I finally bought a new Harvard tie. u00a0My kids think I’m a dick, and my wives keep calling me for their alimony checks, but the world is still my oyster and anyone who disagrees can kiss Larry Summers ass…u00a0

  48. Posted by DarlingNKI | July 22, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    Forgive my douchiness, but that new college pres? She’s a her.

  49. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    The fuck’s a Harvard?nn-Univ. of Phoenix, MBA ’04

  50. Posted by Rastaman vibration mon | July 22, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    Jaa wobble

  51. Posted by Anonymous | July 22, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    These fellers would go well with the uppity, highly educated Metro North chick. u00a0Herman, was her name?

  52. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Ladies and gentleman, I present to you,,, the Winklevoss twins (what you really think these guys weren’t going to get a cushy job in wealth management somehwere)

  53. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    I believe you mean “fixed income”

  54. Posted by Dr Cocktosin | July 22, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    Does your AIDS itch in the heat?

  55. Posted by Anonymous | July 22, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    Jaa does not rule……..nnVenni, vetti, vecci

  56. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    This is not what Harvard saw in them.

  57. Posted by Your Grammar | July 22, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    Please don’t end such a sentence with a preposition. u00a0

  58. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Now that you pull out those lines it sounds like their lawyer(s) wrote the letter. No one other than lawyers or a law student would ever dream of using “applicability or lack thereof”u00a0

  59. Posted by Guess | July 22, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    you’re right. i disrespected the school.

  60. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    - Nouriel Roubini

  61. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Whether it is business leadership in the US economy, the tax payer in the US economy, u00a0the women faculty of Harvard, or the magnificient and all pervasive thing calledu00a0the US economic engine, u00a0Larry Summers simply will not learn and he does a mess-up everytime.u00a0 Stop talking Larry. Keep your mouth shut.

  62. Posted by it's all in the river | July 22, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    somebody say fishing ?nn- B. Hunter

  63. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    I hate that this joke went unappreciated.u00a0

  64. Posted by Billy Ray Valentine, Capricorn | July 22, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    sadly wall street is overflowing with young punks who have no idea what this means

  65. Posted by guest | July 22, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    These guys need their own show on E! pronto–

  66. Posted by trojan | July 22, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    as a product of CT prep school – “one of them” -u00a0i can confidentlyu00a0say they exceed standard New England douche requirements with a comfortable 30% margin of safety

  67. Posted by Chinggis Khaan | July 22, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    A Texas freshman on his first day at Harvard asked an upperclassman “Where’s the library at?”u00a0 The upperclassman admonished him “At Harvard, we never end a sentence with a preposition.”u00a0 The Texan replied “Sorry.u00a0 Where’s the library at, asshole?”

  68. Posted by Guest | July 22, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    That letter is terribly written.

  69. Posted by Justin | July 22, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    The most recent round of Zuckerberg-fucked-us-on-our-settlement litigation that the Winkelvii lost,u00a0definitelyu00a0made them appear rather douchey.

  70. Posted by Justin | July 22, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    “Pierre” = France, maybe for England it’s “Nigel”.

  71. Posted by Justin | July 22, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    I think we can all agree that we’re looking forward to the next public reply.

  72. Posted by Guest | July 24, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Hilarious. u00a0What fools.

  73. Posted by Dalhousieguy | July 26, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    really, though, who WOULDN’T wear a jacket and tie to meet with the president of a major university?

  74. Posted by cheap bookmarking service | September 9, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    99eNgn Very good blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.