Satoshi Nakamoto's net worth no longer the richest in crypto, as Binance CEO makes a billionaire list for the first time
In a ranking of people with the highest net worth derived from digital asset transactions, the Bloomberg Billionaire Index placed the CEO of crypto exchange platform Binance at the top. Bloomberg tried to estimate the fortune of Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (aka CZ) for the first time, and arrived at the figure US$96 billion, way more than the net worth of Satoshi Nakamoto, the alleged inventor of the Bitcoin protocol. Satoshi Nakamoto is second in the list with a US$46 billion fortune which is mainly predicated on their potential ownership of the first 1.1 million bitcoins mined when the protocol was still a proof of concept. Given the controversy surrounding the question who exactly Satoshi Nakamoto is, and the recent inconclusive verdict against Craig Wright who claims to be Satoshi, the CEO of Binance looms large as the richest man in crypto.
Born in China and raised in Canada since he was 12, CZ graduated with a degree in computer science and went to work in finance in global hubs like Tokyo and New York, including a four-year period working for Bloomberg LP. His first brush with crypto was in 2013 when he took part in a game of poker in Shanghai with local investor Ron Cao and Bobby Lee, the CEO of BTC China at the time. They tried to convince him to stake a part of his net worth in bitcoins and he went as far as selling his apartment to buy the nascent cryptocurrency. His experience in the spate of those transactions, however, convinced him that a more user-friendly way to trade crypto is needed, and he went and found Binance (a collective of the words "binary" and "finance").
Apparently, the Binance exchange of Mr. Zhao runs through US$40 billion in transactions on a very slow day and recently scored a 24-hour period where it racked up US$170 billion in trade, in a digital assets market currently worth slightly over two trillion. For comparison, the U.S. public exchange-traded Coinbase platform has a US$50 billion market cap and US$7 billion in revenue for 2021, while Binance managed to score US$20 billion. Here's the current ranking of the world's richest people in crypto according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index:
- Changpeng Zhao - 95.8B
- Satoshi Nakamoto - 45.8B
- Sam Bankman-Fried - 15.4B
- Brian Armstrong - 8.9B
- Cameron Winklevoss - 5.3B
- Tyler Winklevoss - 5.1B
- Mike Novogratz - 5.0B
- Fred Ehrsam - 3.0B
As you can see, Mr. Craig Wright who claims he has access to Satoshi Nakamoto's 1.1 million bitcoins, isn't even mentioned in the list, but Mr. Zhao's crypto fortune is undisputable. He is not in it for the money, though, at least according to his statement that he doesn't "care about wealth, money, rankings" which was given during an interview he gave in Singapore back in November. The Binance CEO is apparently not against the looming crypto regulation and taxation wave, either, and the company is working with finance regulators in multiple countries, including to resolve insider trading and platform certification allegations:
I’m not an anarchist. I don’t believe human civilization is advanced enough to live in a world without rules.