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Changpeng Zhao: How Binance King Climbed from Zero to Billionaire

3 mins
Updated by Nicole Buckler
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In Brief

  • What is CZ's background?
  • How did he climb from humble beginnings to billionaire?
  • Where is he now?
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Changpeng Zhao is now the most recognizable faces in crypto. But how did he climb to such great heights in a relatively short time? Here is a quick take of his background.

Many people are making millions (and losing millions) via cryptocurrency trading. There is no shortage of cash to make in the $1 trillion cryptocurrency sector. In 2022, the number of billionaires who have acquired a fortune in crypto now stands at 19, up seven from 2021.

But the story of billionaire Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as “CZ,” is truly remarkable. CZ is now the CEO of the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume.

Although the Dubai-based founder of Binance is a self-made billionaire, he had had a humble start in China.  

CZ was born in Jiangsu to a professor father. His father was labeled a pro-bourgeois intellect and exiled after CZ was born. This led them to eventually settle in Canada.

Changpeng Zhao: China to Canada to Dubai

By the time CZ immigrated to Canada with his parents, he was twelve. He grew into his teenage years in Vancouver, accompanied by friends from different backgrounds and cultures.

This was also what prompted CZ to choose Dubai as his new home. He’s been there since late 2021. He said that the cryptocurrency space is very international and diversified, and Dubai is a true innovation hub that accommodates a very diverse and innovative group.

Having majored in computer science in Canada, CZ got involved with developing market-focused trading software. This included an internship at the Tokyo Stock Exchange and a full-time four-year job at global financial data giant Bloomberg.

While at Bloomberg, Zhao developed trading software for Wall Street. This was designed to help investors buy and sell contracts used to trade an asset at a predetermined price.

He then founded his first company, Fusion Systems, which built trading systems for brokers.

Prior to the launch of Binance, he was involved in several crypto companies, including his work as Head of Technology at Blockchain.com. It was here that CZ became increasingly interested in Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital currency.

Even though CZ came from the traditional financial space, he was inspired by Bitcoin, being borderless and unfettered by any intermediaries. He liked that Bitcoin addressed many money-related issues such as supply, freedom to deal, and low fees.

Binance Netherlands Europe

The largest cryptocurrency platform in the world

Inspired by the ideals of Bitcoin, CZ built Binance in less than eight months. After its launch in July 2017, Binance Coin was launched in the same year.

Later in 2019, Binance rose in value, to $4.5 billion in April of that year. The growth hasn’t stopped there.

Binance has taken a first step toward expanding in Abu Dhabi after getting the green light to start operations in April, further expanding its plans in the region.

Binance currently has about 120 million users, and about $50 billion is traded daily on the platform.

Zhao is currently ranked 35th on the list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated net worth of $34.5 billion, as of August 2022. This is according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Nearly all of CZ’s net worth in is cryptocurrency.

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Mutaz Quteeneh
Mutaz Quteeneh is a writer and journalist specializing in visual media, traditional and electronic journalism, in both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He is interested in digital currencies, and financial technology.
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