A leader in the cryptocurrency industry, Barry Silbert is the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG), a collection of five companies that concentrate on various segments of the digital currency market. DCG’s subsidiaries include CoinDesk, a media and research platform; Gensis 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.
Besides being an entrepreneur, Silbert is also a keen investor in the cryptocurrency space, having supported 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 subsequently launched DCG using the proceeds from selling his online marketplace SecondMarket to Nasdaq in 2015.
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. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which holds over 650,000 BTC as of September 2021, is Grayscale’s flagship product. GBTC enables investors to access Bitcoin without having to purchase or store it themselves. GBTC also attained the status of an SEC reporting company, becoming the first digital currency investment vehicle to do so.
Grayscale also offers other products that track the performance of other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and more. In addition, Grayscale has 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’s goal is to empower miners and stakers with the tools and resources they need to secure blockchains and build decentralized networks. Foundry has made one of the largest Bitcoin mining investments in North America, investing over $100 million into mining equipment and operations in the region. Foundry also provides institutional-grade custody solutions for miners and stakers through its partnership with Coinbase Custody.
Silbert’s vision for DCG is to leverage the potential of blockchain technology and digital assets to create a better financial system. Not only a store of value, but also a catalyst for social change and economic empowerment are what he considers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to be. 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.
One of Barry Silbert’s subsidiaries, Genesis Global Capital, a crypto lending and trading firm, failed and led to a bankruptcy case against him, the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG). 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. Gemini Trust Co. sued DCG and Silbert in July 2023, accusing them of fraud and deception.
The dispute between Gemini Trust Co. and DCG revolves around the Gemini Earn program, which allowed Gemini customers to earn interest on their crypto deposits by lending them out through Genesis Global Capital. 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.
Claiming that Gemini Trust Co. failed to properly allege fraud or knowledge of fraud by DCG or Silbert, DCG and Silbert filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in August 2023. They also claimed that a “character assassination campaign” against DCG and Silbert was engaged in by Gemini Trust Co. and the Winklevoss twins. The case is still unresolved in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.