Barry Silbert is a prominent figure in the cryptocurrency industry, as he is the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG), a conglomerate of five companies that focus on various aspects of the digital currency market. The subsidiaries of DCG are CoinDesk, a media and research platform; Genesis Trading, a trading and lending firm; Grayscale, an asset management firm; Foundry, a mining and staking firm; and Luno, an exchange and wallet platform. Through these businesses, Silbert aims to accelerate the development of a better financial system that leverages the potential of blockchain technology and digital assets.
In addition to being a business owner, Silbert is also an avid investor in the cryptocurrency space, having backed over 200 startups in 35 countries. Some of the notable companies he has backed include Coinbase, Kraken, Circle, Chainalysis, Etherscan, and many more. Silbert is also known for being one of the earliest adopters of Bitcoin (BTC), having bought his first bitcoins in 2012. He then used the proceeds from selling his online marketplace SecondMarket to Nasdaq in 2015 to start DCG.
One of Silbert’s most significant contributions to the cryptocurrency industry is Grayscale Investments , which offers investors exposure to various digital assets through its trust products. Grayscale’s flagship product is the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which holds over 650,000 BTC as of September 2021. GBTC allows investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without having to buy or store it themselves. GBTC is also the first digital currency investment vehicle to attain the status of an SEC reporting company.
Grayscale also offers other products that track the performance of other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and more. Grayscale has also launched several diversified products, such as the Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund, which invests in a basket of the largest digital currencies by market capitalization. Grayscale’s products have attracted significant institutional and retail demand, as shown by its growing assets under management (AUM), which reached over $40 billion in August 2021.
Another notable initiative by Silbert is Foundry, which was launched in 2020 to provide financing and advisory services to the digital asset mining and staking industry. Foundry aims to empower miners and stakers with the tools and resources they need to build decentralized networks and secure blockchains. Foundry has invested over $100 million into mining equipment and operations in North America, making it one of the largest Bitcoin mining investors in the region. Foundry also offers institutional-grade custody solutions for miners and stakers through its partnership with Coinbase Custody.
Creating a better financial system that leverages the potential of blockchain technology and digital assets is Silbert’s vision for DCG. He believes that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are not only a store of value, but also a catalyst for social change and economic empowerment. He has been vocal about his support for Bitcoin on social media platforms like Twitter, where he often shares his insights and opinions on the cryptocurrency industry.
A bankruptcy case against Barry Silbert, the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG), was caused by the failure of one of his subsidiaries, Genesis Global Capital, a crypto lending and trading firm. After failing to repay its creditors, including Gemini Trust Co., a crypto exchange and trust company owned by the Winklevoss twins, Genesis Global Capital filed for bankruptcy in January 2023. In July 2023, Gemini Trust Co. accused DCG and Silbert of fraud and deception and sued them.
By lending out their crypto deposits through Genesis Global Capital, Gemini customers could earn interest on them through the Gemini Earn program, which is the cause of the dispute between Gemini Trust Co. and DCG. Due to its exposure to the collapse of FTX , a crypto exchange that went bankrupt, Genesis Global Capital froze withdrawals in November 2022, trapping hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Gemini customer assets. DCG and Silbert lied about Genesis Global Capital’s risk management practices and vetting process of counterparties, according to Gemini Trust Co.
In August 2023, DCG and Silbert filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that Gemini Trust Co. failed to properly allege fraud or knowledge of fraud by DCG or Silbert. They also alleged that Gemini Trust Co. and the Winklevoss twins engaged in a “character assassination campaign” against DCG and Silbert. The case is still unresolved in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.