We're roughly four years into cryptocurrency being part of the mainstream conversation, and by now I bet even people who just barely pay attention to digital currency have heard of Coinbase. Some of those people who barely pay attention may even recognize the name of Coinbase's CEO, Brian Armstrong. If you're a regular reader of Celebrity Net Worth you may have caught our article last week about Brian's recent purchase of a $133 million mansion in Bel-Air.
Spoiler alert. Today's article is NOT about Brian Armstrong. Brian may be the most recognizable name of all the crypto billionaires in the world, but his fortune pales in comparison to the person we're talking about today.
If you've read any of our articles about Brian or Coinbase, you may have noticed that we always refer to it as "one of" the largest crypto exchanges in the world. Despite being extremely well-known in the western world, Coinbase is NOT the largest crypto exchange in the world. Not by a long shot. That honor belongs to a company called…
According to a recent analysis by Bloomberg, Binance is BY FAR the largest crypto exchange on the planet in terms of revenue and volume of transactions. In a single 24-hour period in recent weeks, Binance facilitated a mind-numbing $170 billion worth of crypto transactions. A slow recent day means $40 billion in transactions processed. On an average day it processes more transactions than the next four-largest exchanges… combined.
In 2021 Binance generated $20 billion in revenue. That's roughly 3X the amount of revenue Coinbase generated in 2021.
As of Monday's market close, Coinbase has a market cap of $48 billion. That market cap gives Coinbase's founder/CEO Brian Armstrong a net worth of just under $9 billion.
Binance is 90% owned by its founder/CEO Changpeng Zhao, who prefers to go by "CZ."
Binance is not currently publicly traded but based on its most recent private valuation, Bloomberg estimates that CZ's 90% stake gives him a personal fortune of…
Let me repeat that. $96 billion.
That number alone would be enough to rank CZ as the 11th richest person in the world sandwiched between Mukesh Ambani ($91 billion) and Warren Buffett ($105 billion), according to our most recent estimates.
But CZ's fortune does not stop with his 90% stake in Binance. He also owns a large personal collection of various crypto currencies, including Binance Coin which is the fourth-largest digital currency by market cap.
It has been estimated that CZ's personal holdings of Binance Coin alone could be enough to boost his net worth into $120 – $130 billion range. If true that would put CZ's net worth on the same level as people like Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Steve Ballmer… AKA, one of the 8 richest people in the world.
Binance is not without controversy. The company is facing crack downs from regulators around the world.
Binance was founded in China, CZ's native country, but he fled in September 2017 in anticipation of a pending crackdown against crypto. He now primarily resides in Singapore.
Binance is facing strong rebukes from British, German, Japanese and American financial regulators. There are reportedly several active investigations underway in the US including ones at the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
So one could argue that CZ's current top-10 personal wealth level may be facing some serious headwinds in the coming years.
Wherever CZ's wealth ends up, it will be good for humanity as he plans to donate the majority of his fortune to charity. In his own words:
"I intend to donate most of my wealth, as many other entrepreneurs or founders have done. From Rockefeller to today. I intend to donate 90%, 95% or 99% of my wealth."