Barry Silbert Out as Grayscale Chairman While Bitcoin ETF Decision Looms

Barry Silbert Out as Grayscale Chairman While Bitcoin ETF Decision Looms

Barry Silbert resigned as chairman of the board of Grayscale Investments, the company announced Tuesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Silbert, the CEO of Grayscale’s parent company Digital Currency Group (DCG), had not publicly commented on the resignation as of this writing. Another Grayscale board member, Mark Murphy, has also joined Silbert in stepping down from the board. Both men’s resignations are set to go into effect January 1.

Mark Shifke, DCG’s current CFO, will replace Silbert as Grayscale’s chairman, according to the company. Matt Kummell, DCG’s Vice President of Operations, and Edward McGee, Grayscale’s CFO, have also been added to the board.

“Aligned with Grayscale’s commitment to responsible growth, we are pleased to welcome Mark Shifke, Matt Kummell, and Edward McGee to Grayscale’s Board of Directors,” a Grayscale spokesperson told Decrypt. “Grayscale and our investors will benefit from their respective experiences in the financial services and asset management industries as we prepare for Grayscale’s next chapter.”

The spokesperson declined to comment further on the reasoning behind the change in leadership, which comes at a crucial time for Grayscale.

In the next two weeks, analysts predict the SEC is poised to approve the first-ever spot Bitcoin ETFs, financial products that would allow traditional finance institutions and investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without holding any cryptocurrency. Grayscale is among the handful of companies with Bitcoin ETF applications currently under review by the federal agency.

The approval of Grayscale’s Bitcoin ETF application would undoubtedly signal a watershed moment in the company’s history. Analysts have estimated that the implementation of Bitcoin ETFs could infuse crypto markets with $1 trillion worth of institutional capital.

Such an event would also offer Grayscale a chance to reset after its parent company, DCG, had a bumpy 2023.

In July, New York-based crypto exchange Gemini sued DCG and Silbert over the messy fallout that stemmed from the bankruptcy of DCG-owned digital asset firm Genesis earlier in the year. Gemini’s co-founders, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, accused Silbert of lying to them about the safety of Gemini customer funds, some of which were handled by Genesis.

There’s been some progress. In August, the companies announced they’d reached an “in-principle agreement” to repay credits. At the time, the agreement was described as resolving outstanding issues and achieving a fair recovery for creditors—between 70% to 90% in U.S. dollar equivalent.

Then, in October, New York’s Attorney General sued the whole bunch—DCG, Genesis, Gemini, Silbert, and former Genesis CEO Soichiro Moro—for allegedly defrauding over 200,000 customers for over $1 billion.

It’s unclear if Silbert’s departure is related to his exposure to DCG’s ongoing legal troubles. Some analysts speculated that the move could have been instigated by the executive himself, to clear the way for Grayscale’s Bitcoin ETF hopes.

Others pondered whether the development could point to Grayscale’s sale in the coming year.

Edited by Stacy Elliott.

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