With $96 billion, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, who “doesn’t care about wealth, money, rankings” is about to catch up with the richest tech tycoons, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Every year, the F1 race in Abu Dhabi attracts world-famous princes, movie stars, and athletes to Yas Island. Last month, the event welcomed a new person – a former McDonald’s kitchen staff and a software engineer who became one of the richest people in the world after one night. That’s the CEO of Binance, Chengpeng Zhao.
CZ (his nickname in the cryptocurrency world) quickly became a familiar face in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He met with the royal family of Abu Dhabi who wanted to bring the Binance platform to this country. He bought an apartment in Dubai and hosted dinners near the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. These things have helped Zhao become famous in this crypto-booming country.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates Zhao (44 years old) now has about $96 billion – the largest among crypto entrepreneurs. This is the first time Bloomberg estimated his fortune. This number is likely to be much larger since it does not include the coins he currently holds as an individual. That includes Bitcoin and Binance Coin – digital currency issued by Binance and has increased 1,300% in the past year.
The success of Binance shows how much wealth the crypto ecosystem has been creating. However, the future of Binance may depend on whether it can settle with foreign authorities and find a place to welcome them. Binance was ignored by China – where the company was founded – and subject to scrutiny by authorities around the world. According to Bloomberg, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are investigating whether Binance Holdings was used for money laundering and tax evasion.
But for now, money is still flowing into this company. Last year, Binance generated at least $20 billion in revenue, according to a Bloomberg analysis based on the company’s trading volume and fees. This is nearly triple Wall Street’s forecast for Coinbase Global, a public company with a market capitalization of $50 billion. “Coinbase might appear to be the 800-pound gorilla from a U.S. perspective, but Binance is significantly bigger,” said Chris Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson & Co.
This revenue does not include their other sources of income such as margin lending, technology, consulting, and NFT. Bloomberg then estimates the company’s capitalization, using a capitalization-to-revenue ratio of similarly sized listed companies. They then hypothesized that Zhao owns 90% of the company, based on his personal statements and documents Binance submitted to requesting countries, to calculate Zhao’s assets.
When being asked about wealth in an interview with Bloomberg last November, Zhao said: “I don’t care about wealth, money, rankings.” He considers these a distraction and is ready to give away most of his fortune before he dies.
In November 2021, Zhao joined Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore and talked about the numbers behind the rapid growth of this company that was born in 2017. In 24 hours, Binance used to process $170 billion in transactions. The off-peak days also processed $40 billion. This number is much higher than only $10 billion 2 years ago. In the crypto world, these are huge numbers.
Binance regularly processes as many transactions as the other 4 major exchanges combined.