From Gas Jockey To Binance CEO: How Changpeng Zhao Became Richest Man In Cryptocurrency

Binance is one of the most valuable cryptocurrency exchanges in the world as of today, and its founder and current CEO is Changpeng Zhao, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, had a net worth of approximately $30 billion, which placed him in 33rd spot on the list of the world’s richest people.

Early on in life, Zhao was born into a family of educators in a rural village in Jiangsu province, China. He claimed that as a child living in rural China, he had to endure food rationing. His family immigrated to Canada in the late 1980s and felt incredibly fortunate to have been able to leave China.

When Zhao and his family moved to Canada, he worked several part-time jobs, including one at McDonald’s. He attempted to earn money at 14 by working at a Chevron gas station and as a volleyball referee.

He studied computer science at McGill University in Montreal, where he developed an interest in technology similar to that of his father, a math prodigy and programmer in his teens.

Zhao began coding when he was only 16 years old and took programming classes in high school before enrolling at McGill University.  After finishing college, Zhao worked at the Tokyo Exchange and then at Bloomberg in the Tradebook department from 2001 to 2005. Zhao left his job in 2005 to become a partner at the Shanghai firm Fusion Systems, which developed software for the financial markets. 

After discovering Bitcoin in 2013 while playing poker, he went all-in on crypto and committed his life to it. He even gave up his home to fund his Bitcoin investment. He persisted, even as the value of bitcoin dropped from $600 to $200 after he bought it.

Being a tech leader at Blockchain, a cryptocurrency wallet provider, and OKCoin, a cryptocurrency marketplace, Zhao decided to create his exchange, combining the efficiency of high-frequency trading platforms he had previously developed with the potential of cryptocurrencies. Thus, he started Binance with a $15 million initial coin offering.

However, getting to the top is more complicated than it seems, especially for Binance. When Binance’s cryptocurrency, BNB, dropped in value below its ICO price, Zhao and his early colleagues were forced to adapt quickly to changing market conditions.

As a result, Zhao initiated the initiative to make Binance a distributed organization with a flexible international staff. He was also instrumental in growing Binance into a user-friendly platform with maximum bandwidth, low fees, and other benefits.

In a relatively short period, Binance’s offering became too attractive to the cryptocurrency community to be held back by persistent difficulties. Six months after its launch, Binance soared to the top of the cryptocurrency exchange rankings, which remains to this day.

He is now widely known by his alias CZ and is widely regarded as the cryptocurrency industry’s most influential and prosperous figure. His majority stake in the cryptocurrency platform is responsible for much of his wealth at around $30.6 billion. Since the exact value of Zhao’s cryptocurrency holdings is unknown, Bloomberg’s blog post reported that it did not factor them into his wealth.