Changpeng Zhao is a Chinese-Canadian business executive with a net worth of $10.5 billion as of May 2023. In the crypto space, he is simply known as ‘CZ’ and is renowned for launching the world’s biggest crypto exchange, Binance. Changpeng Zhao also serves as the CEO of this huge crypto firm.
In 2018, it was first announced that Binance had the biggest trading volume of any cryptocurrency exchange, surpassing rivals like FTX and Coinbase. Zhao’s rise to success is a true representation of the rags-to-riches story.
Legend has it that Changpeng went from owning almost no assets to having a net worth of more than $100 billion within a year. At his peak in January 2022, when his net worth surged toward $100 billion, Zhao was the richest crypto tycoon globally, the richest Canadian worldwide, and overall one of the 10 richest people in the world.
Sadly, in the next several months of 2022, up to $87 billion was shed from his net worth. It plunged from a peak of $97 billion in January 2022 to $11 billion in May 2022. For some time, that amount was the most money ever lost by a human in history until Elon Musk broke that record.
Away from his work with Binance exchange, Zhao helped create Blockchain.info and served as the Chief Technology Officer of OKCoin. Based on estimates, he was the richest person in all of Canada in early 2022 and the 14th-richest person in the world.
With that said, almost 100% of his liquid net worth is in the form of crypto – not any ‘real assets.’ By June last year, Changpeng Zhao’s net worth had plunged by over $80 billion from his all-time high of nearly $100 billion.
Changpeng Zhao Early Life
Changpeng Zhao was born on September 10, 1977, in Jiangsu province, China. In the 80s, he relocated with his family to Canada. When he was 12 years old, he settled in Vancouver, Canada. Both of his teachers had worked previously in China as teachers, and his father was once said to be an enemy of the communist regime and exiled to a rural area in China.
While he was a teenager, Zhao worked several odd jobs to help support his family, and at some point, he worked for McDonald’s. After he graduated from high school, Changpeng Zhao attended McGill University in Montreal. In his university years, he studied computer science.
After he left McGill, Zhao interned as a subcontractor at the Tokyo Stock Exchange. At the time, he developed software for matching trade orders. Later, he gained employment at Bloomberg Tradebook where he worked for four years as a developer of futures trading software.
In 2005, he relocated once more – this time he settled in Shanghai. While in his home nation of China, he launched a firm named Fusion Systems, which later became famous for creating high-frequency trading systems for brokers. The systems were some of the quickest in the world.
Binance And Cryptocurrency
Changpeng Zhao started getting involved with crypto in 2013. In the next several years, he worked on Blockchain.info and served as OKCoin’s Chief Technology Officer. He left OKCoin in 2017 and launched his crypto exchange known as Binance.
After raising $15 million in an initial coin offering (ICO), the firm grew rapidly. Within eight months, Binance became the biggest crypto exchange in the world in terms of trading volume. Changpeng also introduced his blockchain network called Binance Smart Chain. In recent years, he has continued to contribute in different ways to the decentralization of the finance sector.
Although Binance was initially launched in China, it quickly relocated its main headquarters and servers to Japan after China said that it was going to ban crypto trading operations in 2017. Despite significant competition from several other exchanges, Coinbase has retained the top spot since 2018 when it comes to trading volume.
In 2018, Binance began exploring other options for its headquarters. This was due to many regulations implemented in China and Japan. Changpeng Zhao considered options like Malta and ultimately signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Bermuda.
In recent years, Binance has been growing its reach into Europe with independent entities like Binance Jersey and trading platforms on the Malta Stock Exchange. Binance Jersey provides fiat-to-crypto pairs, including the euro and the pound.
Also in 2018, Binance partnered with the other main exchanges, raising around $12 million for a stablecoin project. The primary goal was to develop a more stable coin that has less volatility than normally seen with cryptos like Bitcoin.
In 2019, Binance partnered with payment processor Simplex in Israel to support crypto purchases with credit and debit cards. With that deal, users managed to make purchases with coins like Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Litecoin. That same year, Binance suffered a severe cyberattack that resulted in $40 million in Bitcoin getting lost.
The firm finished the year by offering its first perpetual futures contracts, which supported leverage of up to 125 times. They also acquired the Indian-based WazirX exchange.
In 2020, the Malta Financial Services Authority said that Binance was not based in Malta. The organization highlighted that the firm was not permitted to operate in Malta and that it was not being regulated by any means by them.
During the same year, Binance encountered more controversy when some documents were leaked by journalists. The documents appeared to indicate that Binance was intentionally lying to the US regulators by letting US residents spoof their IP addresses and trade on the platform.
Theoretically, Binance is not available for use in the US, and it blocks all IP addresses that originate in the States. Nevertheless, journalists have questioned the extent and capability of the security system, and they have suggested that Binance exchange may be letting US residents trade on the platform without putting any effort into stopping them from doing that.
In 2021, it was said that Binance was officially being investigated by the Department of Justice and the IRS. Both of these organizations were worried that the firm was engaging in money laundering and tax offenses.
In 2021, it was said that Changpeng Zhao had bought a home in Dubai. That was a strong message from Zhao that showed his strong support for Dubai, which has proven to be very pro-cryptocurrency over the years.
He said that he bought an apartment in Dubai to show that he was highly ‘committed’ to establishing a presence in the Middle-Eastern country. Earlier in 2021, Zhao famously stated that he does not own a car or a house, since all those assets are ‘illiquid.’ It appears like Changpeng Zhao acquires property as more of a business decision as opposed to acquiring for a personal indulgence.