Although the number of billionaires worldwide fell compared to 2021, 40 per cent of those who remained got richer, including the richest person in Canada according to a Forbes Billionaire report in 2022.
While there are many familiar Canadian names in this year’s list of Forbes Billionaires, including Jim Pattison, a business magnate and investor known notably for Great Wolf Lodge, Ripley’s “Believe it or Not”, and Guinness World Record, there can only be one person with the title of “Richest Person in Canada.”
This year, the title of “Richest Person in Canada”, according to a Forbes Billionaire report, is Changpeng Zhao!
With an estimated net worth of over $65 billion, the Chinese-Canadian business executive has earned the noteworthy ranking of “Richest Person in Canada” and 19th “Richest Billionaire in the World by Net Worth”.
So, “who is Changpeng Zhao?”
If you haven’t been keeping up with the cryptocurrency scene you might not have heard of who he is, what he does, and why he is influential enough to be in the top 20 billionaires in the world.
Let’s find out more about Changpeng Zhao and how he became Canada’s richest person.
Changpeng Zhao, who goes by the nickname C.Z., was born in Jiangsu, China in 1977. Yup, you heard that right, Canada’s richest person in 2022 was born in China, but there’s more to his story. Shortly after Zhao was born, his father, who was a professor at the time, was labelled a “pro-bourgeois intellect” and temporarily exiled.
In the late 1980s, Zhao’s family would move to Vancouver, Canada. As a teenager, Zhao had worked numerous jobs including flipping burgers at McDonald’s and working overnight shifts at gas stations to help pitch in and help cover his family’s household expenses. Truly a heartwarming and inspiring story of a son of an immigrant family in Canada doing his best to help his family.
At the age of 16, Zhao would become interested in computing programming and coding before he completed a computer science degree at McGill University in Montreal.
After graduating from university, Zhao would receive and accepted an internship in Tokyo, working for a subcontractor of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. During his time in Tokyo, he would develop software for matching trade orders.
Following his internship, he would work full-time for four years at Bloomberg Tradebook, where he was also a developer, this time creating futures trading software.
After his time in Tokyo, Zhao would also spend time around the world in places like New York and Shanghai, continuing to build and program high-frequency trading systems, this time for Wall Street’s quantitative traders.
While his successes in the computer science world are extraordinary, it alone was not enough for Zhao to become the richest person in Canada just yet.
Here’s the story of Changpeng Zhao so far; We have a story of a young man born in China but raised and educated in Canada who also holds a Canadian citizenship. The young teenager Zhao would work service jobs to help support his family before he picked up coding and would graduate from McGill University with a computer science degree. His passion for computer programming would take him around the world and success would follow him as he developed trading software for the biggest companies and traders on Wall Street.
But here is how, Zhao went from a developer to where he is today, the 19th richest billionaire in the world, and Canada’s richest person in 2022.
In 2013, Zhao learned about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, a new up-and-coming decentralized digital currency, from a venture capitalist. Zhao would then work for various cryptocurrency projects including Blockchain.info and also briefly served time as the Chief Technology Officer of OKCoin.
A year later, Zhao would sell his Shanghai apartment for about $1 million to use this money on Bitcoin. No, Zhao did not become a billionaire from investing in Bitcoin, but his experience with cryptocurrency projects would lead him to be the billionaire he is today.
Two years after hearing about bitcoin, Zhao created an exchange development company called BijieTech, which provided cloud-based trading technology to several Asian exchanges.
After working on a few more prominent crypto projects, Zhao established Binance in July 2017 and officially left BijieTech. He populated the senior ranks of Binance with the senior developers and engineers from BijiTech, which had helped Zhao to launch a new cryptocurrency exchange platform.
In the same year, Binance was able to raise over $15 million in an initial crypto coin offering and the platform began exchanging trades shortly after the offering. In less than eight months, Zhao grew Binance into the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume as of April 2018.
Zhao’s Binance was popular with crypto traders with many praising the platform for its speed of crypto trading executions and for the rate it issued new products. For example, in 2019, the platform released Binance Launchpad, a tool that enabled the rapid issuance of new cryptocurrencies on its platform, and in 2020 Binance launched its crypto stalking facilitator called Binance Launchpool.
Binance seemed like an overnight success but it continues to grow each year. In November of 2021, Binance was processing roughly $76 billion US dollars worth of bitcoin and Ethereum (another popular cryptocurrency) on its platform each day!
In a recent 24-hour timespan, Bloomberg reported that Binance was able to complete US$170 billion of transactions, adding that the exchange regularly covers as much trading as the next four largest exchanges combined.
According to Forbes’ analysis of Binance’s trading volume and fees, the exchange generated an estimated $16.8 billion in trading fees last year.
Some analysts see wealth accumulation by companies like Binance continuing as crypto adoption grows.
Binance’s current estimated market value is $92.5 billion, allowing the platform to join the top ranks of private technology companies such as ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok), payment giants Stripe, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX
With Binance’s plans to expand to new regions and its impressive level of market dominance among crypto exchanges, it’s no surprise that Zhao will continue to hold the title of “Richest Person in Canada” for some time and may even reach higher rankings in the “Richest Billionaires in the World.”
Despite his net worth of $65 billion, which ranks him the 19th richest billionaire in the world and Canada’s richest person, Zhao has always been humble and adamant saying he plans to give away at least 90% of his wealth, intending to follow the feats of other entrepreneurs and business people like Bill Gates.
“I intend to donate most of my wealth, as many other entrepreneurs or founders have done. From Rockefeller to today. I intend to donate 90%, 95%, or 99% of my wealth” he once said in an interview back on November 16, 2021.
There you have it, the story of Changpeng Zhao. A “burger-flipping service job worker to cryptocurrency billions” story.
From his humble beginnings as a Chinese immigrant to Canada to holding Canadian citizenship, being raised and educated in Canada, and how his passion for computer science led him to be the 19th Richest Billionaire in the World and the Richest Person in Canada.
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