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. CoinDesk, a media and research platform; Genesis, a trading and lending firm; Grayscale, an asset management firm; Foundry, a mining and staking firm; and Luno, an exchange and wallet platform are the subsidiaries of DCG. 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 his notable investments include Coinbase, Kraken, Circle, Chainalysis, Etherscan, and many others. Silbert is also recognized for being one of the first adopters of Bitcoin (BTC), having purchased 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 enables investors to access various digital assets through its trust products. Grayscale’s flagship product is the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which has over 650,000 BTC as of September 2021. GBTC allows investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without having to buy or store it themselves. The first digital currency investment vehicle to attain the status of an SEC reporting company was GBTC.
Other products that track the performance of other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and more, are also offered by Grayscale. 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. The goal of Foundry is to provide miners and stakers with the tools and resources they need to build decentralized networks and secure blockchains. 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 create a better financial system that leverages the potential of blockchain technology and digital assets. 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). Genesis Global Capital was unable to repay its creditors, including Gemini Trust Co., a crypto exchange and trust company owned by the Winklevoss twins, and filed for bankruptcy in January 2023. Accusing them of fraud and deception, Gemini Trust Co. sued DCG and Silbert in July 2023.
The Gemini Earn program, which allowed Gemini customers to earn interest on their crypto deposits by lending them out through Genesis Global Capital, is the source of the dispute between Gemini Trust Co. and DCG. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Gemini customer assets were trapped when Genesis Global Capital froze withdrawals in November 2022 due to its exposure to the collapse of FTX , a crypto exchange that went bankrupt. Gemini Trust Co. claimed that DCG and Silbert lied about Genesis Global Capital’s risk management practices and vetting process of counterparties.
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 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.