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The 2016 Fintech Finance 35: Barry Silbert

< Fintech's Most Powerful Dealmakers of 201613. Barry SilbertChief Executive OfficerDigital Currency GroupLast 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 Click below to view profiles
1. Jonathan KorngoldGeneral Atlantic2. Matthew HarrisBain Capital Ventures3. Jane GladstoneEvercore Partners4. James Robinson III & James
Robinson IV
RRE Ventures5. Steven McLaughlinFinancial Technology Partners6. Amy Nauiokas & Sean ParkAnthemis Group
7. Richard Garman &
Brad Bernstein
FTV Capital8. Gerard
von Dohlen
Broadhaven Capital Partners9. Darren CohenGoldman Sachs Group10. Hans MorrisNyca Partners11. Meyer (Micky) MalkaRibbit Capital12. Maria GotschPartnership Fund for New York City
13. Barry SilbertDigital Currency Group14. Jay ReinemannPropel Venture Partners15. Mariano BelinkySantander InnoVentures16. Justin Brownhill & Neil DeSenaSenaHill Partners17. François RobinetAXA Strategic Ventures18. Vanessa ColellaCiti Ventures
19. Michael SchleinAccion International20. Kenneth MarlinMarlin & Associates21. Rumi MoralesCME Ventures22. Alastair (Alex) RampellAndreessen Horowitz23. Steve GibsonEuclid Opportunities24. Fabian VandenreydtSWIFT
25. Vladislav SolodkiyLife.SREDA26. Gardiner Garrard IIITTV Capital27. Nektarios LioliosStartupbootcamp Fintech28. Lawrence WintermeyerInnovate Finance29. Bina KalolaBank of America Merrill Lynch30. Hyder JaffreyFintech Innovation
31. Calvin ChoiAMTD Group32. Janos BarberisFinTech
Hong Kong33. Jalak JobanputraFuture Perfect Ventures34. Sopnendu MohantyMonetary Authority of Singapore35. Oskar Mielczarek
de la Miel
Rakuten
FinTech Fund