Crypto CEO Among the Richest Billionaires in the World

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ByJulija A.
January 12, 2022

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao - the founder and CEO of the crypto exchange Binance - has become one of the wealthiest people in the world. According to the latest Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Zhao’s net worth is now estimated at $96 billion.

Zhao’s money now rivals the wealth of Larry Ellison, Oracle founder, and has surpassed Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries Limited - India’s most valuable company by market value.

Zhao’s rise is emblematic of the incredibly volatile wealth creation trends in the always-moving cryptocurrency industry. In 2021, other known figures in the cryptocurrency industry, like Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder, and Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s founder, became billionaires.

“Unprecedented amount of wealth creation that has occurred in the industry over the last few years,” said Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX cryptocurrency exchange. “I think that there's a lot of people who are trying to figure out what to do with [that],” he added. Bankman-Fried is another billionaire climbing up the Bloomberg ranks.

“Don't worry about rankings. Focus on how many people you can help,” Zhao also acknowledged the distinction in his tweet. “Unpopular opinion: instead of wealth rankings, there should be a ranking of charity and philanthropy efforts,” said Zhao in a follow-up tweet.

“CZ intends to give away most of his wealth, even 99% of his wealth, just like other entrepreneurs and founders,” a Binance spokesperson said.

Other famous business leaders, like Mark Zuckerberg - the CEO and co-founder of Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) - have signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative Bill and Melinda Gates and Waren Buffet started to inspire the richest to donate their fortune to charity. CZ has not yet done so.

Zhao founded Binance in 2017, and the cryptocurrency exchange has grown into one of the most influential exchanges in the crypto industry. Zhao studied computer science at McGill University in Montreal, and worked on creating software for Bloomberg and the Tokyo Stock Exchange before deciding to go it alone.

On the downside, Binance has encountered regulatory issues in recent months, including a ban in the United Kingdom and restrictions in some other countries. It’s also under investigation from the US Department of Justice and the IRS for money laundering and tax evasion. Zhao addressed this and acknowledged that regulations are necessary for the industry's continued growth.

“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,” said Zhao.

About author

Albert Einstein is said to have identified compound interest as mankind’s greatest invention. That story’s probably apocryphal, but it conveys a deep truth about the power of fiscal policy to change the world along with our daily lives. Civilization became possible only when Sumerians of the Bronze Age invented money. Today, economic issues influence every aspect of daily life. My job at Fortunly is an opportunity to analyze government policies and banking practices, sharing the results of my research in articles that can help you make better, smarter decisions for yourself and your family.

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