The largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Binance, was founded and is led by Changpeng “CZ” Zhao. Zhao, well-known within the sector, began to be featured in more news outlets in November 2022 following the collapse of rival exchange FTX.
Zhao was involved in FTX’s demise and even made a bid to buy the company at the height of the liquidity crisis that eventually caused it to go bankrupt. Once the severity of FTX’s issues became apparent, the deal was no longer valid.
In a tweet on November 9, CZ stated, “We have decided that we will not pursue the potential acquisition of FTX.com as a consequence of corporate due diligence, as well as the newest news stories alleging mishandled client funds and suspected U.S. agency investigations.”
Zhao has emerged as one of the top names in cryptocurrency that is still standing following the collapse of FTX. With a daily trading volume of more than $11.5 billion, Binance far outpaces all other cryptocurrency exchanges.
The 45-year-old, whose estimated net worth is over $13 billion, is included among the top 150 richest persons in the world by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Who is CZ?
He was born in China in 1977, per a post on CZ’s blog. However, two months after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, CZ and his entire family left China when he was 12.
The Canadian embassy expedited the family’s visas in the wake of Tiananmen Square, even though it typically took four years to obtain a passport and a further three years to obtain a Canadian permit. Zhao was born, raised, and attended McGill University in Montreal.
To build an IT start-up with five other foreigners, he returned to China in 2005. Before entering the cryptocurrency industry, Zhao attempted to launch several other enterprises between 2005 and 2015.
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He founded Bijie Tech two years before founding Binance, which offered platforms for exchanges-as-a-service to other exchanges.
Then, in 2017, Bijie Tech and other exchanges in China were shut down. On July 14, 2017, Zhao and a few others from Bijie Tech launched Binance. The Chinese government ruled that cryptocurrency exchanges could not run in China in September 2017.
The CEO of Binance stated in his post that he did not miss the irony of being “forced to leave China” once more, 30 years after he and his family left the country in 1989. The Binance leadership team decided to operate remotely following the Chinese government’s decision.
As part of the post, Zhao clarified that “Binance was never incorporated in China.” He added: “We don’t have any legal entities in China, and we do not have plans to.”
Zhao Established Binance
Zhao returned to China in 2005 and worked for several Internet businesses before getting involved with cryptocurrencies and creating Binance. He describes his life before founding Binance: “I was a serial entrepreneur looking to build a successful start-up before I recognized my passion.”
Only a few weeks after Zhao started Binance in September 2017, the Chinese government prohibited cryptocurrency exchanges from operating there. Zhao was compelled to leave China once more about 30 years after the first time.
By 2021, a peak year for cryptocurrencies, Binance reportedly handled more than $34 trillion in trading volume. The move hardly had any impact on Binance’s growth. It hasn’t always been easy sailing, though. Binance has been involved in several unique situations.
Bitcoin (BTC), valued at $40 million, was stolen from Binance in a cyberattack in May 2019. However, all worked out in the end and clients received total compensation.
The majority of Binance’s conflicts have been with regulators. The largest exchange in the world faced a money laundering investigation in the United States in 2021, and U.K. regulators blocked it last year.
Binance’s U.S. subsidiary, Binance, was established for regulatory purposes. U.S., a distinct division of the main Binance. Zhao changed course last year and declared the company would give up its nomadic structure, possibly to appease regulators.
He added his aspirations to settle down and start a formal, altogether compliance business: “I am a technological entrepreneur, and we are making this pivot into a fully-regulated financial business.”
Despite these goals, the business remains unique, lacking a conventional organizational structure and a formal headquarters.
Binance and FTX’s Decline
Investors worldwide worry that the sector is at serious risk due to Binance’s global crypto exchange market monopoly. These dangers have increased since FTX’s collapse.
CZ significantly impacted Sam Bankman-crypto Fried’s empire’s collapse and fall.
As part of Binance’s exit from FTX equity last year, Binance received roughly $2.1 billion USD equivalent in cash (BUSD and FTT). Due to recent revelations that have came to light, we have decided to liquidate any remaining FTT on our books. 1/4
— CZ 🔶 Binance (@cz_binance) November 6, 2022
Early in November 2022, CoinDesk reported that FTX’s native token, FTT, was supporting the balance sheet of Bankman-trading Fried’s company, Alameda Research. Through Twitter, Zhao said Binance’s holding in FTT would be sold off “because of recent revelations that have come to light.”
Three years prior, FTX had received funding from Zhao’s company. It sold its equity in 2021 and received a $2.1 billion payout in return. Notably, a portion of this payment was made in FTT.
Crypto’s No. 1 Player
Since the FTX fiasco earlier this month, Zhao is now regarded as the undisputed leader.
Bankman-Fried tweeted to Zhao, “Well played; you won,” even though it is evident that Bankman-own Fried’s wicked deeds, not Zhao’s, led to the disaster.
20) At some point I might have more to say about a particular sparring partner, so to speak.
But you know, glass houses. So for now, all I'll say is:
well played; you won.
— SBF (@SBF_FTX) November 10, 2022
Zhao, the boss of the biggest company in the industry, has clarified that exchanges must encourage transparency and aid in repairing the damaged reputation. After the FTX fiasco, the creator of Binance is advocating for a proof-of-reserves paradigm. Under this approach, a public blockchain can be used to demonstrate clients’ assets.
But detractors claim that even Binance continues to be worrisomely opaque. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what Binance’s liabilities are, so show us your reserves.
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Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, was founded and is led by Changpeng “CZ” Zhao. Although Zhao was already well-known within the sector, the implosion of rival exchange FTX in November 2022 propelled him into the mainstream media spotlight.
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