Changpeng Zhao is the founder of Binance, a behemoth in cryptocurrency trading. Zhao, who is often called CZ, founded the company in 2017. The company was originally based in China but moved out of the country due to the unfriendly regulatory environment in the country. The company is registered in the Cayman Islands.
10 Things about Changpeng Zhao
1. Zhao was born in China but grew up in Canada
Changpeng Zhao was born in Jiangsu, China but his family moved to Canada when he was 12. He grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. Zhao graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.
2. He became a software developer after graduating from college
After graduating from McGill University, he interned for a company that subcontracted for the Tokyo Stock Exchange. There he developed software to match trade orders. For four years after that, he developed futures trading software for Bloomberg Tradebook. Bloomberg Tradebook was an alternative trading system for US equities but later added Asian and European equity markets. In 2005, he founded Fusion Systems after moving back to Shanghai. The company developed software for brokers focused on high frequency trading.
3. He founded Binance in 2017 and the company was an instant success
He started to get interested in bitcoin in 2013. He worked on many projects involving bitcoin and was the CTO of OKCoin. In 2017, he launched Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange. He raised $15 million in an initial coin offering. By April 2018, Finance became the largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume.
4. He helped finance Musk’s attempt to buy Twitter
In 2022, when Elon Musk launched a bid to buy messaging platform Twitter, Zhao agreed to finance the transaction by investing $500 million. But Musk terminated the deal to buy Twitter after concerns about the number of bots on the platform. He also invested $200 million in financial publisher Forbes.
5. Regulatory scrutiny and money laundering allegations
Binance has faced regulatory scrutiny in many countries. The company has been accused of facilitating money laundering but Zhao has pledged to work with regulators so that Binance can operate legally in as many countries as possible.
6. All his wealth is in bitcoins
Zhao is such a big believer in bitcoin that he keeps 100% of his liquid wealth invested in bitcoin. Some may call that gambling but this also shows his belief in the future for cryptocurrency. At the height of the crypto boom, he was worth nearly $100 billion, his net worth has dropped significantly with the crypto bust though he is still comfortably a billionaire.
7. He moved to Dubai in 2022
Zhao is constantly on the move. He rarely stays in a country for more than a few years. That’s because countries often try to regulate or outlaw bitcoins, which caused Zhao to move in search of places that are friendly to bitcoin. In 2022, he moved to Dubai, a country that’s welcoming to foreigners and has easy regulation when it comes to cryptocurrencies.
8. Controversial comments about poor people
Though Zhao is generally guarded with his comments, in 2021, he tweeted that poor people are saying bad things about his company. Though he deleted the tweet, his comments have raised questions about his judgment and his attitude towards poor people.
9. He plans to donate most of his wealth to philanthropy
Zhao has said that he plans to donate 99% of his wealth like other wealthy people such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
10. Zhao has expressed sympathy for those who lost money in cryt0
Many investors lost money when many cryptocurrencies lost more than 50% of their value in 2022. Zhao expressed sympathy for those investors but feels that it was not Binance’s fault. He thinks that better financial literacy is needed to address the risks associated with trading cryptocurrencies.