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From flipping burgers to billions: Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance becomes world’s richest crypto billionaire with $96B net worth

Binance
Image credits: Binance

Changpeng Zhao, who runs the cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance, has joined the billionaires club with an estimated net worth of at least $96B. 

His net worth is now larger than Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, who sits in 11th position of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with $93.3B. 

Also known as CZ in the crypto world, Zhao’s fortune has exceeded rival tech titans, including Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. 

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX, another cryptocurrency exchange that has been backed by Binance, pointed Tuesday to an “unprecedented amount of wealth creation that has occurred in the industry over the last few years,” reports CNN. 

Experts believe that Zhao’s net worth is even more than $96B since he has his investments in Bitcoin and Binance’s coin Binance Coin (BNB).

In an interview with CNN Business, Binance spokesperson says, “CZ intends to give away most of his wealth, even 99 per cent of his wealth, just like other entrepreneurs and founders.”

Who is Changpeng Zhao? How does CZ, an ordinary child flipping burger in McDonald’s to support his family ended being a billionaire? Let’s find it out!

Who is Changpeng Zhao?

Changpeng Zhao, 44, ws born in Jiangsu province of China. His parents were both teachers, and his father worked as a university instructor before he was branded a “pro-bourgeois intellect” and exiled to rural areas shortly after Zhao’s birth.

In the late 1980s, when he was 12, moved to Canada along with his family, settling in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a teenager, CZ helped his family financially, flipping burgers at McDonald’s and working overnight shifts at a gas station.

CZ’s Education

He completed a degree in computer science at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. 

After graduating, Zhao received an internship in Tokyo, working for a subcontractor of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, developing software for matching trade orders. 

He then worked full-time for four years at Bloomberg Tradebook, where he was a developer of futures trading software.

His crypto journey!

His crypto journey began when he started working for various cryptocurrency projects in 2013, including Blockchain.info, and also served as chief technology officer of OKCoin. 

Around the same time, in a friendly poker game with Bobby Lee then-CEO of BTC China, and investor Ron Cao, he was encouraged to put 10 per cent of his net worth in Bitcoin. 

After thorough research, Zhao sold his apartment to invest in Bitcoin.

He then left OKCoin in 2017 to launch a cryptocurrency exchange named Binance after raising $15M in an initial coin offering. 

Within a year, Zhao grew Binance into the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume. 

Hurdles

Initially, Binance was based in China but moved it later due to the Chinese government’s increasing cryptocurrency regulation. Right now, it is headquartered in the Cayman Islands, Seychelles. 

On the other hand, Zhao has also faced a fair share of hurdles like other exchanges from various countries, including the US, UK, Japan, and Thailand.  

In 2019, the US government banned Binance on regulatory grounds, however, Binance including other investors founded Binance US, a separate exchange registered with the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and designed to comply with all applicable US laws.

Last year, UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has banned Binance from operating in the United Kingdom. Around the same time, Japan’s Financial Services Agency warned Binance that it was not registered to do business in Japan too.

Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission filed a criminal complaint against Binance for operating without a license. 

However, he publicly addressed the setback through an open letter saying that “More regulations are, in fact, positive signs that an industry is maturing, because this sets the foundation for a broader population to feel safe to participate in crypto. I believe a well-developed legal and regulatory framework in the long term will be a solid foundation that truly makes crypto essential in everyone’s daily life.”

Right now, Binance is the largest exchange in the world in terms of the daily trading volume of cryptocurrencies. According to Bloomberg, the crypto exchange has generated at least $20B in revenue last year. 

Binance in Dubai

In another news, Changpeng Zhao has reportedly met with royalty in Abu Dhabi to establish a Binance exchange in the country. There are alleged reports that he has taken up an apartment in Dubai and hosted dinners at Palm Jumeirah island.

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