Who is Changpeng Zhao?
Changpeng Zhao or “CZ” as he is fondly known within the crypto community is one of the more recognizable personalities in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. Zhao’s is a story of a rapid ascendency to fame and recognition from relative obscurity. These days, CZ is the CEO of Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world.
His crypto holdings give him a net worth of between $1.5 – $2 billion putting him in the elite class of cryptocurrency billionaires. Perhaps one of the most profound aspects of CZ’s story is the fact that 7 months ago, Binance had not been established and his biggest involvement in the cryptocurrency space was a stint at OKCoin which ended with his resignation in 2015.
Changpeng Zhao was born in 1977, in Jiangsu. He was born to a family of educators with his father being described as a pro-bourgeois intellect. In the late 80s, the family decided to move abroad, settling down in Vancouver, Canada.
Zhao first came in contact with Bitcoin in the year 2013. He had a friend, Ron Cao, who was the Managing Director of Lightspeed Venture Partners. The two regularly played poker together. Upon investing in BTC China (now BTCC) in August of 2013, Cao introduced CZ to Bitcoin. CZ immediately took an interest in Bitcoin and began to dedicate a lot of his time to research. He got a hold of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper, began crawling through Bitcoin Talk forum postings, and even attended a number of Bitcoin conferences.
Another friend of his, Bobby Lee, the CEO of BTCC advised him to put about 10% of his net worth into Bitcoin. With the price of Bitcoin growing steadily, he became interested in getting a job in the industry and soon came in contact with popular crypto investor Roger Ver, which subsequently led him to join Blockchain in 2013.
CZ joined Blockchain.info where he worked closely with Roger Ver and Ben Reeves. He served as the Head of Development at Blockchain for a period of 1 year before departing to join OKCoin. Speaking on the departure, CZ maintained that it had been an “amicable one” and that he was still quite friendly with the team at Blockchain. When he joined Blockchain, he was reportedly the third person to be hired in the cryptocurrency wallet division of the company.
While at Blockchain, CZ played an important role in transforming the company to become one of the most recognizable Bitcoin storage services in the world. CZ played a hand in vastly improving the company’s pedigree in Asia and was also involved in developing a number of products for the company’s API. He also took part in the company’s acquisition of ZeroBlock, an information service provider.
CZ joined OKCoin in 2014 as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). OKCoin at the time was the largest Bitcoin exchange in China. The platform specialized in spot trading between fiat and cryptocurrency assets. In less than a year, CZ would leave OKCoin with the exchange company owing about $10,000. The nature of the split was in no way amicable and CZ posted a lengthy statement on the Reddit online forum in the aftermath of the split. He cites a number of problems with OKCoin especially regarding the public contract dispute between the company and Roger Ver.
After his introduction to Bitcoin, CZ quietly nursed the ambition of establishing his own cryptocurrency company. His specific focus was on creating an exchange platform that did not carry out any transactions using fiat money. (31) After leaving OKCoin, he decided to bide his time, waiting for the perfect opportunity which came with the ICO boom of 2017.
In July of 2017, CZ launched the Binance ICO which ended up raising $15 million. About 200 million BNB tokens were sold during the ICO. CZ leveraged all of the experience he had garnered over the years in trading and the cryptocurrency market to create the Binance cryptocurrency exchange platform. Top of the agenda for him was scalability, so he made sure that the platform had inbuilt scalability features right from the beginning of the project. Within seven months, Binance grew to become the number 1 cryptocurrency exchange platform in the world.
CZ is always in the Top 10 most influential and richest people in cryptocurrency.