- Says he's building Berkshire Hathaway for the virtual currency
- His Digital Currency Group raises money from at least 11 firms
Barry Silbert, fresh from selling a private stock-trading business to Nasdaq, is plowing deeper into bitcoin ventures with new funding from companies including MasterCard Inc. and Bain Capital Ventures.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, New York Life Insurance Co. and venture funds including one run by CME Group Inc. also were among at least 11 institutions that invested in Silbert’s latest firm, Digital Currency Group, according to a statement Tuesday. He declined in an interview to describe the size of the fundraising, which he announced as part of the Money 20/20 financial technology conference in Las Vegas.
Silbert, 39, started Digital Currency Group this year to oversee a bitcoin-trading platform and an asset-management unit that runs the Bitcoin Investment Trust, a vehicle for investors to speculate on the future of the virtual currency. The company is part of a broader plan to develop a network of businesses and investments, he said.
"We view it as a platform company similar to businesses like SoftBank and Berkshire Hathaway," the investment company run by Warren Buffett, Silbert said. "They have the flexibility to start companies, to invest in companies, to buy companies. And that’s what we are doing. We are narrowly focused on this industry."
Digital Currency Group will take stakes next year in another 15 to 20 startups focused on bitcoin and its underlying technology, the blockchain, he said. It also has plans to start a new business line next year, he said, declining to elaborate.
Nasdaq agreed last week to buy SecondMarket Solutions Inc., a venue he founded for trading stock of private companies. The price was said to be less than $10 million, according to a person briefed on the deal.