About Changpeng Zhao
Changpeng Zhao, famously known as “CZ,” is the founder and CEO of Binance, which is the world’s largest crypto exchange based on trading volume. The Binance platform allows people to trade, and invest in cryptocurrencies. Due to Binance’s success, CZ is now amongst the world’s richest crypto-personalities and has turned his wealth into billions of dollars. This profile will explore how CZ started, what decisions he made to turn over Binance, along the controversies that surround CZ’s overnight fame and Binance as a crypto exchange.
Changepeng Zhao’s early life and education
Changepeng Zhao was born on 5th Feb, 1977 in China’s Jiangsu province. Both his parents were educationists with his father being a university professor who was expelled by the Chinese government to the rural parts of China over multiple anti-state allegations. This later led the family to immigrate to Canada when Changpeng Zhao’s age was 12 years old.
In Canada, Changpeng Zhao spent most of his teenage years working menial service jobs that also included working at a local McDonald’s and a gas station, all in hopes of supporting his struggling immigrant family. In his older teens, his father got a stable job and was able to purchase him a 286 DOS Computer.
Later, this decision inspired Changpeng Zhao to enroll in computer programming classes that eventually helped him get admission to McGill University’s Bachelor in Computer Science program, which is Canada’s one of the most prestigious institutes.
Changpeng Zhao’s pre-crypto career
Upon graduation, Changpeng Zhao worked as an independent contractor for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, making it possible for brokers to trade Japanese stocks online. After that, Changpeng Zhao became Tradebook Futures Development Officer for the prestigious Bloomberg and worked there from 2001 to 2005.
He then partnered with some of his developer friends to start Fusion Systems, an IT consulting firm based in Shanghai. During this time, Zhao also founded Bijie Tech, a cloud-based service provider to exchanges. Both ventures provided automated high-frequency trading systems for stockbrokers.
Both his ventures were a massive success, and because of this, people started to question who is Changpeng Zhao because at the time no one had heard about him, particularly because he kept away from the public eye.
Spark of Interest in Blockchain and Crypto
Changpeng Zhao first heard about Bitcoin back in 2013 while he was playing poker with Bobby Lee, the brother of Charlie Lee, the famous Litecoin founder. Bobby asked Changpeng Zhao to put at least 10% of his savings in Bitcoin and see the magic happening within a few years.
Upon doing due diligence, Zhao was so impressed by Bitcoin, that he decided to go all in, which also included selling his luxury apartment in Shanghai despite being constantly told by his family not to.
This decision also led him to join Blockchain.info and later work as the Chief Technology Officer of OKCoin in 2014, the largest crypto exchange at the time.
Founding and Launching the Binance Exchange
Changpeng Zhao later decided to launch a crypto exchange of his own that would be user-friendly. He already understood how central exchanges work and how real-time trading happens. Therefore, after teaming up with a few developers he knew, Changpeng Zhao officially launched Binance in March 2017.
By July 2017, Binance was able to raise $15 million in seed funding and ICOs. In less than eight months, Binance’s popularity skyrocketed which is a reason why Changpeng Zhao’s net worth grew to new heights. By February 2018, Changpeng Zhao was placed on the list of Richest People in Crypto by Forbes which estimated his net worth to be around $1.2 billion.
However, trouble quickly found Changpeng Zhao once again and he had to leave China due to the government’s strict action against cryptocurrencies. But this did not stop Binance’s upward trajectory and the exchange kept on growing particularly because the exchange was user-friendly, offered low fees, cared for its customers, and listed numerous crypto-trading pairs.
In 2019, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao proved what he meant by Binance caring for its customers as he fully compensated all of the users who lost their BTC in a cyber-attack, despite it meant Binance had to pay $40 million.
Changpeng Zhao’s leadership and Binance’s growth
Being the majority stakeholder in Binance, Changpeng Zhao’s net worth keeps on growing because even in 2023, Binance is the largest crypto exchange in terms of trading volume. As CZ wants to keep it this way, he is continuously increasing Binance’s operations globally.
Changpeng Zhao is also ensuring that Binance offers the latest products available in the crypto world. This is why Binance launched its’ NFT marketplace giving users direct access to trade and mint NFTs.
Binance also offers to learn and earn, a token launch platform, a decentralized finance wallet, a tax fee calculator, and OTC trading.
Changpeng Zhao’s vision for Binance’s future
The ultimate vision of Changpeng Zhao is to ensure Binance becomes the world’s most recognized and accepted crypto exchange. He believes this is the best way for the world to become financially inclusive, allowing every human to own a bank account and invest in cryptocurrencies.
Perspective on Crypto regulation and adoption
Changpeng Zhao is perhaps the biggest advocate for the adoption and regulation of cryptocurrencies by world leaders. He is of the opinion that, with regulations, there will be a suitable path ahead that will not only increase the acceptance of cryptocurrencies but also guarantee their prevention from unlawful or illicit intentions.
Furthermore, Changpeng Zhao also believes the future of finance lies in cryptocurrencies as it makes the entire global financial system more inclusive.
Controversies and Criticisms Faced as Binance CEO
Changpeng Zhao’s successful career has not come without challenges and controversies. However, he endured them by accepting where he was wrong and developing a clear strategy to overcome them. Binance has been accused of running an illegal exchange that helps tax evaders and money launderers.
As a result, Changpeng Zhao decided to take a step back and work with governments which later helped Binance to acquire a legal status to operate in multiple countries including France and Italy.