Troubled billionaire and founder of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, has seen his wealth grow by $8.42 billion, bringing his total fortune to almost $50 billion. This year alone, his wealth has surged by $13.9 billion.

Changpeng Zhao
Changpeng Zhao

Zhao’s net worth increased from $39.9 billion to $48.3 billion as the price of Binance shares rose from $549.19 on March 22, 2024, to $554.30 by Monday morning, March 25, 2024, according to data from the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.

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Most of Zhao’s money comes from his big stake in Binance, which is the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange with over 150 million users as of August 2023.

Binance made $9.8 billion in revenue from the average of its trading volumes over the past 12 months up to March 2024, as tracked by research services and CCData. Also, the average fees charged on Binance’s website for spot and derivative trading volumes contribute to this big revenue number.

The updated revenue figure in March 2024 resulted in Zhao gaining about $11 billion in wealth, showing the significant growth of Binance and its founder’s wealth in the cryptocurrency market.

About Zhao’s Money:
Zhao owns around 90% of Binance, as reported in public statements and filings where ownership details are made public.

Besides Binance, Zhao also owns Binance.US, which is a related exchange operating in the United States. Binance.US was valued at $4.7 billion during a funding round in March 2022, and Zhao is estimated to own 86% of the company.

However, Zhao’s ownership in Binance.US faced trouble when the exchange encountered legal issues. After a lawsuit by the Securities & Exchange Commission in June 2023, Binance.US decided to stop supporting dollar transactions, causing its value to drop to zero. This led to a $1 billion decrease in Zhao’s overall wealth.

Zhao also has investments in Bitcoin and Binance Coin, but the exact amount he holds is not known, so it’s not included in his calculated net worth.

The backstory of Zhao’s Struggle with Regulators:
In early 2023, Binance had a big share of the cryptocurrency market, reaching 62% of total on-exchange crypto trades in the first quarter. This success was partly because of a promotion offering zero fees for popular trading pairs.

However, after the promotion ended, Binance’s market share dropped to 51% by the end of the third quarter, according to data from research firm CCData. This showed the challenges Binance faced in keeping its dominance amid changing market conditions and regulatory pressures.

Binance clashed with traditional financial systems, facing regulatory scrutiny and legal actions from governments. In June, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Binance for various violations.

Earlier in 2023, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also started regulatory proceedings against Binance, citing concerns about access for U.S. users, weak anti-money laundering controls, inflated trading volumes, and mishandling of client assets.

These regulatory issues led to significant consequences for Binance, including a hefty $4.3 billion fine from U.S. regulators.