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The 2016 Fintech Finance 35: Barry Silbert

  • By Peter Vasiliev

13. Barry Silbert
Chief Executive Officer
Digital Currency Group
Last year: 13

Twenty-three years ago Barry Silbert passed his Series 7 exam to become, at 17, the youngest licensed stockbroker in the U.S. In 2004 — six years after graduating with a bachelor’s in business administration from Atlanta’s Emory University — he left New York investment bank Houlihan Lokey to found SecondMarket, a pathbreaking platform for trading privately issued shares, now owned by Nasdaq. Those breakthroughs were mere preliminaries for what he hopes to accomplish with Digital Currency Group, which he formed in New York in 2014 to capitalize on Bitcoin. He believes the cryptocurrency will do no less than “change the way people think about money” and “change our financial system in a significant way.” Arriving at this conclusion after a couple of years of playing the Bitcoin market on his own, Silbert chose to structure DCG as “a company rather than a fund,” which gives him the flexibility to buy or invest in ventures at various stages and to own digital currency. “To be totally clear, my enthusiasm is very much around Bitcoin,” explains the 40-year-old CEO, adding that he is skeptical of many of the private, non-Bitcoin blockchain efforts that Wall Street is experimenting with. He has such notables as former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers on his board of advisers and RRE Ventures’ James Robinson IV (No. 4) and Bain Capital Ventures’ Matthew Harris (No. 2) on his investment committee. The framework “allows me to bring on permanent capital from strategic investors without a five- to seven-year time horizon, and at some point in the future I will be able to take DCG public.” Silbert cites long-term-minded portfolio builders Berkshire Hathaway, Liberty Media Corp., and SoftBank Group Corp. as role models for DCG. He boasts his company is “the most prolific investor in the industry,” with stakes in 88 businesses worldwide — prominent among them Blockstream, Chain, Coinbase, and Ripple — and a subsidiary, Bitcoin Investment Trust, which is the first vehicle of its kind that lets the public take positions in the sector. In January, DCG acquired the CoinDesk news and events business, and more than 20 new cryptocurrency and blockchain investments followed. Silbert says he devotes much of his time to fostering connections and synergies among the portfolio companies, “making sure they’re all collaborating while helping them make strategic decisions about what they want to do with blockchain and Bitcoin.”


The 2016 Fintech Finance 35

1. Jonathan Korngold
General Atlantic
2. Matthew Harris
Bain Capital Ventures
3. Jane Gladstone
Evercore Partners
4. James Robinson III & James
Robinson IV
RRE Ventures
5. Steven McLaughlin
Financial Technology Partners
6. Amy Nauiokas & Sean Park
Anthemis Group
7. Richard Garman &
Brad Bernstein
FTV Capital
8. Gerard
von Dohlen
Broadhaven Capital Partners
9. Darren Cohen
Goldman Sachs Group
10. Hans Morris
Nyca Partners
11. Meyer (Micky) Malka
Ribbit Capital
12. Maria Gotsch
Partnership Fund for New York City
13. Barry Silbert
Digital Currency Group
14. Jay Reinemann
Propel Venture Partners
15. Mariano Belinky
Santander InnoVentures
16. Justin Brownhill & Neil DeSena
SenaHill Partners
17. François Robinet
AXA Strategic Ventures
18. Vanessa Colella
Citi Ventures
19. Michael Schlein
Accion International
20. Kenneth Marlin
Marlin & Associates
21. Rumi Morales
CME Ventures
22. Alastair (Alex) Rampell
Andreessen Horowitz
23. Steve Gibson
Euclid Opportunities
24. Fabian Vandenreydt
SWIFT
25. Vladislav Solodkiy
Life.SREDA
26. Gardiner Garrard III
TTV Capital
27. Nektarios Liolios
Startupbootcamp Fintech
28. Lawrence Wintermeyer
Innovate Finance
29. Bina Kalola
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
30. Hyder Jaffrey
Fintech Innovation
31. Calvin Choi
AMTD Group
32. Janos Barberis
FinTech
Hong Kong
33. Jalak Jobanputra
Future Perfect Ventures
34. Sopnendu Mohanty
Monetary Authority of Singapore
35. Oskar Mielczarek
de la Miel
Rakuten
FinTech Fund

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