I’m not that rich: CEO of world’s largest crypto exchange on $74 billion net worth

“[I’m] really not that rich, but honored to be featured on the cover,” wrote millionaire Changpeng Zhao when Fortune magazine featured Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao on its cover. The 44-year-projected old’s net worth is $74 billion, according to the magazine, and the Bitcoin surge has made him as wealthy as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg “virtually overnight.”

According to recent estimations from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has joined the ranks of the world’s top billionaires, with a net worth of at least $96.5 billion.

Zhao’s estimated fortune now exceeds that of Mukesh Ambani, the Indian industrialist whose fortune has also risen dramatically in the last two years.

Other crypto pioneers, including Vitalik Buterin, the developer of Ethereum, and Brian Armstrong, the founder of Coinbase, both became billionaires last year as the value of virtual coins rose.

According to CNN, Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of FTX, another cryptocurrency exchange sponsored by Binance, alluded to a “exceptional amount of wealth creation” in the market over the last few years.

CZ, like other entrepreneurs and creators, plans to give away the majority of his fortune, possibly even all of it, according to a Binance spokeswoman. According to the report, Zhao founded Binance in 2017 and has since grown it into one of the world’s top cryptocurrency exchanges.

The 44-year-old is the CEO of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, with a market capitalization of $300 billion, about six times that of its nearest U.S. competitor, Coinbase. Zhao’s net worth has increased to $74 billion in just five years since founding Binance, according to Bloomberg, nearly matching that of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He is worth more than Dell founder Michael Dell and each of Sam Walton’s three daughters, the Walmart fortune’s heirs, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Zhao was raised in a small town in Jiangsu Province, China, after his father was expelled from a larger city due to his “bourgeois leanings.” Food rationing was a part of his childhood, he told Fortune.

Zhao, then 12, gained a new viewpoint after moving to Canada in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square student revolt and ensuing government repression. He began his career by flipping burgers at McDonald’s and officiating volleyball games. He went on to study software development and worked in Tokyo and New York for several years before founding Binance.

He’s now a billionaire, the CEO of a cryptocurrency exchange that processed $34.1 trillion in transactions last year, seemingly overnight. According to Zhao, the transition from startup entrepreneur to crypto titan happened all at once.