The stakes just got much higher in the feud between Winklevoss and Silbert

January 11, 2023, 2:51 PM UTC
Cameron Winklevoss speaks during the Bitcoin 2021 Convention in Miami.
Cameron Winklevoss speaks during the Bitcoin 2021 Convention in Miami.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

So much drama. Crypto billionaires Cameron Winklevoss and Barry Silbert were back at it yesterday as the former issued a public letter accusing the latter of “defrauding” thousands of investors of the high-interest Earn program. Silbert soon after shot back with a letter of his own, telling Digital Currency Group shareholders that the past year has been the most difficult in his life, and lamenting that his integrity has been questioned.

If you’re wondering what this is all about, it stems from the fact that customers of Earn—a service spun up by Winklevoss’s firm Gemini, which promised 8% returns to investors who lent their crypto—have not been able to withdraw their funds due to financial troubles at DCG subsidiary Genesis. Winklevoss blames those troubles on Silbert taking loans from Genesis in order to make “kamikaze” bets on another of DCG’s subsidiaries and accuses him of lying about the financial health of the subsidiary. For good measure, Winklevoss added his voice to a fledgling campaign that claims it can oust Silbert as CEO.

These are pretty serious allegations and come shortly after a Bloomberg story, likely planted by anti-Silbert forces, claimed DCG is under investigation by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn. If any of this is true, Silbert faces a serious risk of seeing his crypto empire gobbled up by civil lawsuits and could even lose his freedom. But that’s a big “if.”

As I wrote earlier, Silbert is a wealthy and savvy businessman who can afford very good lawyers who are unlikely to have signed off on illicit transactions. Meanwhile, DCG’s Twitter account shot back at Winklevoss, calling his new gambit a “desperate and unconstructive publicity stunt” and hinting Silbert or the company may sue for defamation.

The upshot is that either Winklevoss is correct and Silbert has committed serious corporate malfeasance, or else he and Gemini are engaged in a questionable publicity campaign that aspires to pressure or shame Silbert into stepping down—something unlikely to happen since DCG is a private company totally under his control. Whatever the truth, the stakes in this billionaire feud just got considerably higher, and someone is poised to lose badly.

Jeff John Roberts


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