Changpeng Zhao, known as CZ, is one of the most famous characters in the crypto world. According to the Forbes ranking, he is among the top 20 richest people with a fortune of $65 billion. Changpeng has received the most fame as the founder of the world's largest crypto exchange, Binance.
Who is CZ? Changpeng Zhao (趙長鵬) is the founder and CEO of the largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance. Within the crypto community, he is commonly referred to as CZ. Changpeng eagerly shares his knowledge and insights on social media and has had some success with it, as CZ Twitter account is now followed by more than 8.6 million people. The future cryptocurrency billionaire was born in 1977 in a small city in one of the eastern provinces of China - Jian Ning Suzhou.
In 2001, Changpeng was invited by Bloomberg Tradebook to settle in America for 5 years, where he worked as a trading interface designer for the futures and options platform. In November 2005, Changpeng became the head of Fusion Systems, whose main activity was the development of high-frequency brokerage trading systems (Zhao worked there for more than 8 years).
Meeting Roger Ver (one of the first investors in BTC) was another turning point in Zhao's life, as it was Weir who invited the developer to join the Blockchain.info project (a cryptocurrency wallet service). Seeing the growing popularity of ICOs (a form of raising funds for projects by selling new cryptocurrencies to users), Zhao decided to develop his own cryptocurrency trading platform. In less than 8 months, Changpeng Zhao managed to do the unthinkable - in April 2018, Binance became the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume.
Changpeng's technological ideas helped accelerate the exchange of information and process more than one million transactions per second, thus reducing fees. In addition, the former programmer paid great attention to the user interface and customer service to make the platform more accessible and attractive.
At the time of writing Changpeng Zhao holds the 167th position on Forbes' wealth ranking, with a total fortune estimated at $10.2 billion. The majority of his wealth originates from his 30% ownership in Binance and his cryptocurrency assets, which encompass BTC, BNB and BUSD. Changpeng Zhao has openly shared his cryptocurrency expertise at events such as Binance Summit: The DeFi World, Consensus Conference, and TC Sessions: Crypto 2022.
In November 2022, Zhao sold all Binance FTT tokens due to an $8 billion FTX deficit, causing investor panic. Later, he considered acquiring FTX amid liquidity issues. Binance withdrew its bid over the deficit, and FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy despite a $32 billion valuation, which led to criticism of Zhao.
Furthermore, Zhao faced criticism in 2019 during a major security breach at Binance. Hackers stole user data, including API keys and 2FA credentials, resulting in the loss of around 7,000 BTC. Binance reimbursed affected users in response to the incident.
Another fresh case CZ received criticism over is related to the Initial Coin Offering of Binance utility token, $BNB. The recent Forbes investigation assisted by Gray Wolf Analytics and Inca Digital has raised doubts about the success of $BNB ICO. While Changpeng Zhao presented it as a "huge" success, an analysis suggests that they sold far fewer tokens than claimed. Only around 10 million tokens were sold instead of the stated 100 million. This discrepancy was largely unnoticed due to the lack of ICO regulation back then. Despite this, Binance's founders ended up with 145 million $BNB tokens, exceeding their initial target of 80 million.