- Changpeng Zhao is the founder of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange in terms of trading volume.
- In an interview, Zhao talks about how he built Binance in 180 days and continues to expand his divisions.
- He also breaks down why he holds most of his personal assets in Bitcoin and Binance Coin.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
For Changpeng Zhao, home has always been a less physical address and more of an inner world that transcends geographical boundaries.
Growing up in China, Zhao had a small nomadic upbringing, following his foster parents, who moved between cities every few years. When he was 12, the family immigrated to Canada, where he remained for another decade before moving to Tokyo, New York and then to Shanghai for work.
Today, as CEO of the world̵
While coronavirus-induced blocking has kept Zhao in Asia for the past year, his normal schedule has been to switch places every few months to spend time with employees and users who have sprung up around the world.
“I have a habit of moving around a lot, but it gives me more exposure to the world,” Zhao, who goes through the Czech Republic, said in an interview. “I like to stay mobile, I like to visit more places, just to know what’s going on in different places.”
This type of life without borders has given Zhao a leading position in the friction and inefficiency in converting fiat money, which applies to all currencies backed by government decrees.
“If you use fiat to make cross-border transactions, it’s actually very difficult and you really get cream for the exchange rates,” he said. “If you exchange currency at an airport, you lose about 10% each time, so the price is very high.”
Nowadays, Zhao tries to pay with crypto whenever and wherever he can. It does so by using the Binance Visa card, which allows users to convert and spend their cryptocurrencies with more than 60 million merchants worldwide, but is limited to customers living in Europe, according to its website.
“I use this card very intensively, but sometimes I need a Fiat in cash,” he said. “Usually I’ll just ask a friend and say, ‘Hey, do you have $ 500 I can take from you, I’ll give you some BNB (Binance Coin),’ most of them will be polite enough to say yes.” so i get this way. “
It takes 17 years and 180 days
Restrictions on fiat money in cross-border transactions were not the only thing that led Zhao to crypto.
In 2013, he came across the book on bitcoins, which immediately clicked for him as a developer who has always worked at the crossroads of finance and technology.
“I realized the benefits of bitcoins very quickly,” he said. “The thing I wanted to check was if there was a community behind it.”
In December of that year, Zhao flew to Las Vegas for a bitcoin conference attended by people such as Vitalik Buterin (founder of Ethereum), Charlie Lee (creator of Litecoin) and Matthew Roszak (an early crypto investor). From the conference, he saw that the community behind Bitcoin consisted mostly of developers, rather than the “drug bosses” he had read about.
“I just thought it was the future. I realized it was going to be a lot bigger than the internet,” he said. “I couldn’t catch this trend, I was just working as a junior, but I thought I would definitely not miss this one, so I just went all-in.”
Zhao really entered the Olympics. Immediately after the conference, he left Fusion Systems, a company that builds high-frequency trading systems for brokers, which he had launched in 2005 in Shanghai.
In 2014, he sold his apartment to buy bitcoin, which he acquired for about $ 600, only to see it up to $ 200 in two years. But Zhao said he kept almost everyone to this day and sold only “very small pieces” for a small fee.
Three years later, Zhao created Binance by initially offering $ 15 million coins in July 2017. Cryptocurrency growth grew rapidly and became profitable in just three months, he said. Within six months or about 180 days, Binance Coin (BNB) achieved a market capitalization of one billion dollars.
The BNB token traded at $ 614.15 at 1:11 p.m. EST on Friday, giving it a market capitalization of $ 94 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.
While critics and fans marveled at Binance’s 180-day success, Zhao said they did not know the years of hard work and failures he had before Binance, which was his sixth launch.
“People say that, but they don’t take into account the 17 years before, when I tried different things and built experience, a team, a network, etc.,” he said. “And a lot of failures before that. So for me it’s 17 years plus 180 days.”
There are no physical assets, only bitcoin and BNB
In this new crypto
, Binance has emerged as an even bigger bait than before, with a number of divisions involved in charity, investment and acquisitions, as well as an indispensable marker market to be launched in June.
Zhao, returning to Forbes’ list of crypto-billionaires, is valued at $ 1.9 billion in Fiat dollars.
Instead of making the usual billionaire purchases such as yachts, luxury cars, private jets and houses for millions of dollars, Zhao does not invest in any physical assets, including real estate.
“I don’t know all these exquisite things,” he said. “If you look at the world, there is no physical property that holds value and values value. Nothing holds value almost as well as cryptocurrencies, and nothing will grow as fast as cryptocurrencies.”
Zhao breaks down from time to time with electronic gadgets such as phones, cameras and computers, but still complains about their rapid depreciation.
“I usually use them for about a month when I have to move, I just throw them away,” he said. “So I don’t make any investments in physical assets.”
Zhao intends to remain rich in crypto. He never held fiat money for long periods of time and held almost all of his personal capital in Bitcoin and Binance Coin.
Although there are hundreds of symbols listed in Binance, Zhao said he simply does not have time to study and understand other symbols in depth due to the many days and weeks required for proper diligence of projects and tracking their progress over time.
“Without understanding them, I’m not investing myself,” he said. “Personally, I just want bitcoin and BNB.”