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 pursues his goal of accelerating the development of a better financial system that utilizes 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 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. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which holds over 650,000 BTC as of September 2021, is Grayscale’s flagship product. Investors can access Bitcoin without having to acquire or store it themselves through GBTC. GBTC also attained the status of an SEC reporting company, becoming the first digital currency investment vehicle to do so.
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. Additionally, 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. As evidenced by its growing assets under management (AUM), which reached over $40 billion in August 2021, Grayscale’s products have attracted significant institutional and retail demand.
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. Through its partnership with Coinbase Custody, Foundry also offers institutional-grade custody solutions for miners and stakers.
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 expressed his support for Bitcoin on social media platforms like Twitter, where he frequently 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. In July 2023, Gemini Trust Co. accused DCG and Silbert of fraud and deception and sued them.
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. When Genesis Global Capital froze withdrawals in November 2022 due to its exposure to the collapse of FTX , a crypto exchange that went bankrupt, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Gemini customer assets were trapped. According to Gemini Trust Co., 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 accused Gemini Trust Co. and the Winklevoss twins of engaging in a “character assassination campaign” against DCG and Silbert. The case is still pending in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.[