It’s hardly a secret that Barry Silbert is a big fan of bitcoin. In the past year, the SecondMarket founder has become one of the best known evangelists for the digital currency, giving countless mainstream interviews and investor presentations. He’s also been more than willing to put his money where his mouth is, investing millions of dollars into dozens of bitcoin startups through his venture capital company, the Bitcoin Opportunity Corp. With so much of his time being focused on bitcoin ventures, it’s hardly surprising that he doesn’t have enough time to keep up his workload as SecondMarket’s CEO. In a blog post published yesterday, Silbert formally announced he was stepping down from his CEO role.
Silbert said that while he has “never been more excited about SecondMarket,” he decided it was time to step aside from the day-to-day management of the illiquid asset company he founded a decade ago. He will transition to a full-time role in the company’s digital currency business, with the intention to spin that division off into a distinct entity “at the appropriate point in time.” Bill Siegel will take on the role as Interim CEO of SecondMarket. It’s worth noting that Silbert won’t exactly be giving up much of his power in the company, as he will retain his position as Chairman and CEO of SecondMarket’s parent holding company.
Although Silbert’s plan to leave his current position and focus on SecondMarket’s digital currency business has been well known for months, the timing of the move is noteworthy. Earlier this week, the first New York-based bitcoin exchange, Coinsetter, opened to the public, hinting that Wall Street and institutional investments are expected to make major waves in the cryptocurrency community in coming months. SecondMarket’s Bitcoin Investment Trust may soon see competition from the much-anticipated (and publicly listed) Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, requiring far more attention and strategy than it currently does. Draft cryptocurrency regulations from the New York Department of Financial Services will soon allow fully authorized “BitLicense” businesses to operate in the state, directly impacting many of the companies Silbert has invested in. With all that in mind, Silbert’s move to focus “100%” on bitcoin is a strong indication that major movements requiring his time and talents are afoot.