Changpeng Zhao (or “CZ”, as he is widely known in the industry) has long been one of the richest men in crypto. Especially since the collapse and implosion of Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, who was—for a time—the richest man under 30 years old.
However, according to new figures, the long crypto winter and mounting legal troubles have begun to erode Zhao’s billions. That’s despite a notable market upturn in October.
The Binance founder’s fortune has plummeted dramatically in recent weeks according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index . On October 10, Zhao was worth a staggering $26.8 billion.
However, just seventeen days later on October 27, his net worth had dropped to $17.3 billion – a massive $9.5 billion loss.
According to Bloomberg, Zhao’s wealth had actually risen to $29.1 billion at one point in mid-October before rapidly declining. Despite the recent drops, the billionaire’s fortune is still up $4.69 billion year-to-date.
The bulk of Zhao’s wealth comes from his controlling stake in Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which he founded in July 2017.
Binance generated revenue of $12.6 billion in 2022, according to Bloomberg’s analysis. Zhao is credited with owning 90% of Binance based on public statements and filings.
Binance suffered major setbacks this year after being sued by the SEC in June for allegedly misleading investors and breaking securities rules. The company announced it would stop supporting dollar transactions and transition to a crypto-only model.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has also seen at least 10 top executives leave in the last year alone. Binance France’s legal chief, Stephanie Cabossioras, left on October 18, with other key regional heads downing tools in September.
These developments have probably helped drag down Binance’s valuation and Zhao’s fortune. In addition to Binance, Zhao owns a majority stake in related US exchange Binance.US, valued at $4.7 billion. However, regulatory troubles have put pressure on the company’s worth.
Changpeng Zhao’s fortune may continue to freefall if trading activity remains suppressed. According to a recent CoinGecko report, spot trading volume across top exchanges dropped 20.1% in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter.
The ongoing crypto winter is taking its toll, with market leader Binance seeing its market share plummet to a yearly low of just 44% in September—a huge decline from its February peak of 66%.
As the founder of Binance, Zhao’s wealth is heavily dependent on trading volumes and fees generated by the exchange. With trading activity dipping, Binance’s revenue and valuation could continue to drop.