DCG's Barry Silbert Pitched Genesis-Gemini Merger in a Drastic Bid to Save the Lender in 2022

Silbert’s motion to dismiss the New York Attorney General’s $3 billion lawsuit contains emails from around the time 3AC failed and the Genesis and Gemini loans business began to seize up.

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Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 8:33 p.m. UTC
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  • DCG boss Barry Silbert proposed a merger between Genesis and Gemini to the latter’s co-founder, Cameron Winklevoss, during a lunch meeting in Oct 2022.
  • The combined company would be exciting to investors, making it possible to raise $500-$1 billion and take the company public in 24 months, Silbert wrote in an email.
  • Silbert's emails to his team seems to undermine some of the Winklevoss twins' claim in the ongoing lawsuit, a spokeswoman for DCG said.
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  • In a drastic bid to avoid impending collapse, Barry Silbert, the CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG), suggested a merger between his lending firm Genesis and the Winklevoss-owned cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, during a lunch with Cameron Winklevoss in late 2022, according to documents filed this week.

    Silbert’s motion on Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James contained in its appendix a series of emails sent by the DCG boss, which provide a fascinating blow-by-blow account of the collapsed hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC), and implosion of the crypto industry’s multi-billion dollar loan business.

    In an email from Oct. 20, 2022, Silbert described a lunch meeting with Winklevoss where he discussed the challenges facing Genesis and, by extension, the Gemini Earn platform, which operated in conjunction with the DCG-owned lender. Silbert suggested a merger of the two firms, which could later lead to the merged companies going public.

    “Good lunch with Cameron. Tldr: he is intrigued about the idea of a closer partnership between Genesis/Gemini/DCG, including a potential merger of the companies. I put him on clear notice that the path we’re on right now could lead to a Genesis bankruptcy, which would put Gemini's deposits (and therefore, Gemini's business) at significant risk. He took that part surprisingly well and appreciates we need to work together to mitigate that risk,” Silbert wrote in the email.

    In a July 7, 2023, social media post on X, Cameron Winklevoss addressed the said meeting between the two and noted that "Barry reached out to set up a meeting to induce Gemini to continue Earn. He did this knowing Genesis was massively insolvent," adding that "Barry claimed that Genesis faced only a timing issue – a lie that hid the gaping hole on Genesis’s balance sheet."

    In the context of the ongoing legal wrangles between DCG, Genesis and Gemini, Silbert's emails to his team appear to undermine some of the Winklevoss twins' claims against the firm, a spokeswoman for DCG pointed out.

    "The email shows that the purpose of the meeting and what was discussed differs completely with what was alleged in the complaint, thereby undermining their entire argument," the DCG spokeswoman told CoinDesk.

    'Super exciting'

    Silbert’s memo to his team continued by saying the combined company would be "super exciting to investors," and it would be "possible to raise $500-$1 billion and take the company public in 24 months." The proposed merger would enjoy plenty of synergies and mop up weak competitors.

    “We could roll out Gemini's stablecoin across DCG and give Circle/USDC a run for their money,” Silbert wrote. “Even without merging, there is a ton more Gemini and Genesis can do together and the two companies should be leaning in together, not pulling apart.”

    With the benefit of hindsight and considering the oncoming collapse of crypto exchange FTX, the idea that these now-defunct lending platforms could go and raise capital in the form of an IPO looks totally out of the question. However, other emails reproduced in the filing show Genesis, which at its peak was processing billions of dollars in crypto loans per quarter, was thinking about a possible listing in 2023.

    As the fallout from 3AC loomed closer, a proposal dubbed the “Shock & Awe Plan” suggested bolstering Genesis with DCG’s crypto, venture, public equity and funds portfolios and sharing “our plans to take Genesis public in 2023,” according to one email, which stated:

    “More diversified set of assets makes for a more successful IPO and post-IPO company. Big opportunity for Genesis to come out of this as THE leader in the space.”

    Edited by Aoyon Ashraf.


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    Ian Allison

    Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

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