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30 May, 2024

Changpeng Zhao

[ Chahng-pehng Zow ]

Changpeng Zhao is the founder and former CEO of Binance, the largest crypto exchange by trading volume.

Shawn Munir
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Shawn Munir
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Shawn Munir is the CEO of Coinweb.com and spearheads all the collaborative partnerships for the platform. He bought his first Bitcoin in 2017 and never looked back. He is also an investor in 200+ Web3 startups and is considered an expert in the field. Before building Coinweb with his co-founders, he co-founded Presail, a management...
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Vinny Leow is a renowned entrepreneur and technology expert. He is the founder of CRT Labs and the Chief Ecosystem Officer at Partisia Blockchain. At Partisia, he leads growth and fosters ecosystem expansion via dApp creation and partnerships. Vinny's multifaceted background includes founding ChargeASAP, a consumer electronics startup, and advising roles at EMX, Pendulum, and...

Who Is Changpeng Zhao? A Short Biography

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Changpeng Zhao (CZ) is the founder and former CEO of Binance, the largest crypto exchange by trading volume.

Early Life and Education

Zhao was born in China but moved to Canada at age 12, attending McGill University in Montreal. 

As a teenager in Vancouver, he was flipping burgers at McDonald’s and working overnight shifts at a gas station to support his family with household expenses. 

He then returned to China to start his entrepreneurial endeavors, founding his first company, Fusion Systems, a high-frequency trading platform. 

Creation of Binance

Zhao first learned about Bitcoin during a poker game. In 2013, he invested all of his money in it, even selling his apartment. 

After working for other crypto exchanges and wallets, he founded Binance in 2017, raising $15 million in its Initial Coin Offering (ICO). Binance quickly grew to be the most popular crypto exchange and still holds the position. 

The success of Binance made Zhao, dubbed “CZ”, one of the wealthiest players in crypto and later in the world. His net worth peaked at $80 billion thanks to his 90% ownership in Binance. It later fell to $33 billion after high-profile legal troubles. 

Changpeng Zhao
CZ at Binance | Source: arabianbusiness.com

Binance Investigation 

Binance was the target of a multi-year investigation by the US Department of Justice for violating the Bank Secrecy Act. The company failed to implement anti-money laundering policies and profited from the US economy without complying with US laws. 

According to The Treasury Department, a key player in the investigation estimated that Binance enabled over 100,000 transactions linked to criminal activity. 

Stepping Down as CEO

CZ stepped down as CEO of Binance in November 2023 after pleading guilty to federal criminal charges. Binance settled for $4.3 billion with the Department of Justice, and Zhao was personally fined $50 million and sentenced to 4 months in prison

Binance was banned from operating in the US, but Binance.US is still the legal entity in the US that has an operating license and will continue their operations there.

Notably, Yi He, CZ’s Binance co-founder, and mother to three of his children, hasn’t faced any charges and appears to still be involved with the company. 

CZ previously stated he planned to donate up to 99% of his wealth, but what lies ahead after his release from prison remains to be seen. 

One of CZs last tweets before prison:

Shawn Munir
Written by

Shawn Munir is the CEO of Coinweb.com and spearheads all the collaborative partnerships for the platform. He bought his first Bitcoin in 2017 and never looked back.

He is also an investor in 200+ Web3 startups and is considered an expert in the field. Before building Coinweb with his co-founders, he co-founded Presail, a management platform designed for companies and investors to manage their investments in Web 3.