Crypto CEO becomes one of the world's richest billionaires

Crypto CEO becomes one of the world’s richest billionaires

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, who runs the crypto exchange Binance, has joined the ranks of the world’s top billionaires, with an estimated net worth of at least $96 billion, according to new calculations from Bloomberg Billionaires Index published Monday.

Zhao’s projected fortune now rivals that of Oracle (ORCL) founder Larry Ellison and surpasses that of Mukesh Ambani, the Indian tycoon whose fortune has also soared over the last two years.

In a region known for dizzying wealth, Zhao, 44, fits right in: His net worth is $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. It’s the first time Bloomberg has estimated his fortune, which exceeds Asia’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani, and rivals tech titans including Mark Zuckerberg and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Zhao’s fortune could be significantly larger, as the wealth estimate doesn’t take into account his personal crypto holdings, which include Bitcoin and his firm’s own token. The so-called Binance Coin surged roughly 1,300 percent last year.

Binance’s success underscores the vast riches being created in the unshackled cryptoverse, even with recent declines, but controversy has swirled around the firm.

The ever-changing landscape of digital currencies, especially with the newfound fascination and buying/selling of NFTs thrown into the mix, makes hammering down a solid, completely accurate number and estimation of valuation nearly impossible.

“I never view anyone as competition. If I’ve got that mindset, everyone’s the enemy to me, even very different businesses,” Zhao said last July in an interview with The New York Times. “But I have an abundance mentality. I think most things in this world are not limited resources. Money is not. Business opportunities are not. And the crypto industry is not.”

Changpeng "CZ" Zhao

Zhao’s net wealth has been estimated for the first time by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which concludes that it exceeds that of Asia’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries.

The $96 billion figure does not take into account Zhao’s personal crypto holdings, meaning it could be a significant underestimate.

It is likely Zhao’s wealth could rival that of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Bloomberg said.

Among his crypto peers, the 44-year-old’s closest rivals are FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried ($15.4 billion) and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong ($8.9 billion), according to Bloomberg’s index.

Binance is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, with a 24-hour trading volume of $106 billion as of Jan. 6, according to CoinGecko. It generated at least $20 billion of revenue last year, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg assumed Zhao owns 90% of Binance and estimated the exchange’s revenue from spot and derivatives trading volumes and advertised fees. It valued the business based on publicly traded peers. Zhao declined to comment to Bloomberg, and Binance disputed the accuracy of the estimates. 

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