Changpeng Zhao Net Worth (Updated 2024)

What is Changpeng Zhao’s Net Worth?

Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as CZ, is the co-founder and former CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume. As of 2024, his net worth is estimated to be around $33 billion according to Forbes.

Zhao’s massive wealth is primarily derived from his controlling stake in Binance. He owns an estimated 90% of the company, which he co-founded in 2017. Binance’s revenue for the trailing 12 months through March 2024 was calculated to be around $9.8 billion based on its trading volumes and fees.

Despite stepping down as CEO in November 2023 after pleading guilty to anti-money laundering charges and being sentenced to 4 months in prison in April 2024, Zhao’s net worth is expected to remain largely intact and potentially grow further amid the crypto bull market.

Here’s the breakdown of Changpeng Zhao’s net worth:

Name:

Changpeng Zhao

Net Worth:

$33 Billion

Date of Birth:

Sep 10, 1977

Profession:

Entrepreneur

If you’re curious about how we estimate a celebrity’s net worth, you can check out our methodology here.

Changpeng Zhao

Early Life

Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as CZ, was born on February 5, 1977, in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China. His parents were both educators, with his father being a university instructor who was labeled a “pro-bourgeois intellect” and exiled to rural areas shortly after Zhao’s birth.

In the late 1980s, when Zhao was 12 years old, his family emigrated to Canada, settling in Vancouver, British Columbia, following the Tiananmen Square massacre. During his teenage years in Canada, Zhao worked various service jobs, including at McDonald’s and a gas station, to help support his family.

Zhao attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, where he majored in computer science. His early exposure to computers and programming, fueled by a $14,000 286 DOS computer his father bought, laid the foundation for his future career in technology and finance.

Early Career

After graduating from McGill University, Zhao began his career with an internship in Tokyo, working for a subcontractor of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, where he developed software for matching trade orders. He later worked full-time for four years at Bloomberg Tradebook in New York, where he developed futures trading software.

In 2005, Zhao moved back to China and launched Fusion Systems in Shanghai, focusing on high-frequency trading platforms for stockbrokers. His involvement in the cryptocurrency world began in 2013 when he was introduced to Bitcoin by Bobby Lee and Ron Cao during a poker game. Zhao heavily invested in Bitcoin, even selling his Shanghai apartment to do so.

Cryptocurrency and Binance

Zhao’s pivotal moment came in 2017 when he left his position at OKCoin, where he had served as Chief Technical Officer, to start Binance. Binance was launched in July 2017 following a successful initial coin offering (ICO) that raised $15 million. The exchange quickly grew to become the largest cryptocurrency exchange globally by trading volume by April 2018.

Zhao’s net worth saw a meteoric rise due to his significant ownership stake in Binance. He owns an estimated 90% of the company, which has been the primary source of his wealth. Despite facing significant legal challenges, including a guilty plea to money laundering charges and a four-month prison sentence in 2024, Zhao’s net worth remains substantial. 

Binance’s revenue, amounting to $9.8 billion, is calculated from the average of its spot and derivative trading volumes over the last 12 months up to March 2024. Zhao also holds a significant share in Binance.US, although its value has fluctuated due to legal issues. His investments in Bitcoin and Binance Coin further contribute to his wealth, although the exact amounts are not publicly disclosed.

FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried

Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as CZ, has had a notable rivalry with Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX. This rivalry significantly impacted both their careers and the broader cryptocurrency market.

In 2019, Binance, under Zhao’s leadership, invested in FTX, acquiring a significant equity stake. However, by 2021, Binance decided to exit its investment in FTX, receiving a $2.1 billion payout, part of which was denominated in FTX’s native token, FTT. This move was seen as a strategic decision by Zhao to distance Binance from FTX as the latter grew into a major competitor.

The relationship between Zhao and Bankman-Fried soured further in 2022 when FTX faced a liquidity crisis. Zhao initially announced that Binance would acquire FTX to help it navigate its financial troubles, but he later backed out of the deal, citing concerns over FTX’s financial health and regulatory issues. This decision contributed to FTX’s eventual collapse and Bankman-Fried’s subsequent legal troubles.

In stark contrast to Bankman-Fried, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for defrauding investors and misusing customer funds, Zhao’s legal issues were less severe. Zhao pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program at Binance and was sentenced to four months in prison. Despite this, Zhao’s net worth, estimated at $33 billion, remains largely unaffected, and he continues to hold significant influence over Binance.

Real Estate

Changpeng Zhao has shown a preference for properties in Dubai, a city known for its progressive stance on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

In October 2021, Zhao purchased his first luxury property in Dubai, an apartment in the glamorous Jumeirah district, close to the iconic Burj Khalifa. This purchase was seen as a show of support for Dubai’s pro-crypto environment. In addition to this apartment, Zhao also bought a mansion in the same area, estimated to be worth around $2.8 million.

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