Barry Silbert Navigated Fallout From 2022's Crypto Scandals

The former owner of CoinDesk faced a slew of lawsuits and complications in 2023, but by year-end, his Digital Currency Group had put some issues behind it.

AccessTimeIconDec 4, 2023 at 1:22 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2024 at 1:55 a.m. UTC
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This has been a year of triumphs and not a few tribulations for Barry Silbert's Digital Currency Group (DCG).

Under his leadership, the company has cemented its position as a key player in the crypto industry despite facing a series of challenges related to last year's epic scandals. Not least of these was FTX, whose downfall was precipitated by the reporting by a then DCG-owned company – CoinDesk, the publisher of this very article (crypto is incestuous!). In November, DCG sold CoinDesk to Bullish, an institutional digital assets exchange, helping Silbert make a sizable profit on his original $500,000 purchase in 2016.

This profile is part of CoinDesk's Most Influential 2023. For the full list, click here.

Formation and Expansion of Digital Currency Group

Since its inception in 2015, DCG, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut, has evolved into a conglomerate with holdings across the blockchain sector (as of 2023, it has stakes in more than 160 companies, from mining to analytics). Silbert began investing in the industry in 2013 and, following the sale of SecondMarket, he formed DCG. The company's early focus was on Genesis and Grayscale, which became its first subsidiaries.

Navigating Challenges

In November 2022, the company faced significant setbacks with its subsidiary, Genesis Trading, losing approximately $175 million due to the bankruptcy of the Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange FTX. This incident led to a freeze of customer withdrawals and loan applications, impacting Genesis Global Capital as well.

In early 2023, amid disputes with shareholders and the challenging economic climate, Silbert found himself defending his position as CEO against calls for his replacement by debtor Cameron Winklevoss, co-founder of Gemini, another crypto exchange. During this period, DCG considered selling parts of its venture capital holdings to raise funds.

Strategic decisions and legal controversies

2023 also saw Genesis Global Capital file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with DCG making a strategic decision to either sell its Genesis unit or turn its equity over to creditors. This move reflected Silbert's pragmatic approach to navigating financial challenges. However, the firm's decisions were not without controversy.

In July 2023, DCG faced a lawsuit from Gemini, citing fraud with the intent of reclaiming funds. This was followed by a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general in October 2023, alleging that DCG, Gemini Trust, and Genesis Capital had defrauded investors of more than $1.1 billion. In late November, the two groups agreed to a settlement that will see DCG repay Gemini hundreds of millions of dollars.

Silbert's leadership of Digital Currency Group through a period marked by significant industry shifts and regulatory challenges reflects both his resilience and adaptability. Silbert's decisions and strategies, while sometimes controversial, underscore his influence and the pivotal role DCG still plays in the broader cryptocurrency landscape.


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CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Michele Musso

Michele Musso is a senior producer of CoinDesk's podcast division

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