Changpeng Zhao is the founder and CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. With a net worth of around $30 billion as of October 25, he’s the 33rd-richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Zhao — who’s often known as CZ — is one of the most prominent people in cryptocurrency, as well as the wealthiest person in the industry.
Crypto winter has taken a toll across the industry, and Zhao is no exception. His real-time estimated net worth is a far cry from the peak of his personal wealth: His net worth peaked at $95.9 billion earlier this year, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows.
Zhao’s interest in cryptocurrency began in 2013 when he first learned about Bitcoin, according to a 2018 Forbes report. His career in the up-and-coming digital currency industry started at Blockchain.info, where he served as the head of development.
Zhao founded Binance in 2017 and powered it to become the biggest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume. The exchange handles some $76 billion in daily trading volume, according to Protocol. In 2021 alone, Binance generated over $20 billion in revenue, according to Bloomberg. Binance is bigger than its four largest competitors combined, per Bloomberg.
Zhao and Binance did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Zhao was born in a rural village in Jiangsu province in China in 1977 to a family of teachers, per Fortune.
Zhao, who is Chinese-Canadian, moved to Vancouver in the late 1980s with his family, according to Forbes.
Zhao’s father, Shengkai, was a professor who was exiled to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution in China, according to the Maclean’s report.
Zhao said in a September blog post that his family had to wait in line outside the Canadian embassy for three days to procure visas. He added that he was “lucky to have been able to leave at that time.”
Shengkai immigrated to Canada to pursue a doctorate degree at the University of British Columbia, per Maclean’s. After the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, Zhao and his family followed his father and moved to Vancouver.
Zhao said he experienced food rationing growing up in rural China. “You get a ticket to buy meat,” Zhao told Fortune in a March interview. Zhao told Maclean’s that it wasn’t until he moved to Canada that he ever drank fresh milk, because it was so rare to find it in China.