There is nothing written about the Enlightenments. A clear example is that of the rapper’s initials, alias CZ, Changpeng Zhao, the crypto boss who ruled for years in an industry where he gained even more attention if possible after the FTX disaster. Even an HBO writer couldn’t have put it together better. Zhao’s big reveal came when he was 36 years old and had some poker cards in his hand. Then, in the middle of the game, he found a name to stamp himself on: Bitcoin.
The story was published in 2020 by Zhao in an article from the official blog of his company, Binance, where he talked about a friendly match with Bobby Lee, then the managing director of BTC China, and investor Ron Cao. It was they who encouraged him to dedicate 10% of his net worth to Bitcoin; this percentage seemed insufficient for ZC given his upcoming move. He bet already, he must have thought, let’s bet.
“He met Bitcoin during a poker game in 2013 and then decided to bet on cryptocurrencies. Even He sold his house to buy bitcoin” describes the company’s article before detailing the “all-in-one movement” that it presumes has “launched a crypto leader.”
The poker, exposure, and “all-in-one” that led him to sell his Shanghai apartment in 2014 and buy some cryptocurrencies that soon fell to a third of its value could have been limited to a simple bar-to-bar anecdote. One of those whistles of admiration among colleagues, yes, but an anecdote after all.
The truth is, you can scratch more.
beyond the story
The 2013 episode is part of a larger, well-knit “self-made man” story. canonical biography It’s about the self-taught pioneering entrepreneur that both Binance and Zhao are responsible for curbing as part of an effort conversation that, among other things, helped frighten away rumors of China’s influence on the company.
The poker metaphors also help to understand why the acronyms Changpeng Zhao and Binance have been making more headlines than usual for the past week and a half. Now bankrupt and in the midst of controversy, FTX’s move in collapse wouldn’t be out of place in a poker guide. Of course, in this case without an epic “all in one” as the finishing touch.
However, to understand Changpeng Zhao’s origins, it is necessary to travel to a very different place and time than the poker timba: His job is to go back to ancient times. China Post June 1989The one who had images of the riot and Tiananmen Square etched into his retina.
Zhao’s parents were teachers, and the family lived on the campus of Hefei University of Science and Technology, one of the most influential universities in the country. His father was eventually labeled a pro-bourgeois intellectual,” he elaborates. Economist– that the family decided to pack their bags and look for new horizons for racing on the other side of the Pacific.
“It usually took four years to get a passport and two or three years to get a lucky Canadian visa. However, due to the incident, the Canadian embassy was opened and quickly gave us visas,” he says. wait in line for three days in front of the Canadian embassy day and night to avoid missing his turn and filing the paperwork.
CZ found himself in Vancouver and says he spent his best childhood years there. Perhaps the best way to understand what the move means is an anecdote that Zhao himself shared with Canadian magazine. of maclean: He didn’t taste fresh milk until he crossed the pond. To help keep his family afloat, the future crypto kingpin has chained multiple jobs, including working at a McDonald’s, working at a Chevron gas station, or officiating at volleyball matches.
A self-taught man’s handbook.
Over the years, CZ chose to study Computer Science at McGill University in Montreal and soon began working on trading software for the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Bloomberg Trade Book. “In 2005, the web technology industry started to boom in China, so I went to Shanghai. start an IT company along with five other expats,” he says.
He was involved in various projects between 2005 and 2015, until, after his bizarre “fall off his San Pauliana horse” in the 2013 timba, he decided to mark the “all-in” of the “all-ins” and get completely immersed. in the crypto arena: Sold his Shanghai apartment and seized Bitcoins.
“It was serial entrepreneur I wanted to start a successful new company before I realized my passion,” he would admit. Around 2015, it launched Bijie tech, a company that provides exchange platforms that faced the Chinese government’s strict policy regarding bitcoin exchanges and other cryptocurrencies in March 2017. Soon after, the idea of what would become Binance began to spin, which was put forward by some of the team returning from Bijie tech and launched shortly thereafter in July of the same year.
“Just a month and a half later, before Binance could get on a more solid footing, we faced our first serious outage. On September 4, 2017, the Chinese government issued a memorandum stating that cryptocurrency exchanges cannot operate in China,” Zhao explains. and ZC faced the “irony” of being forced to leave his homeland 30 years after he left the country to move to Canada.
From McDonald’s to the largest crypto exchange
One of the largest platforms in the crypto arena, which would become the main world stock exchange, was born. And with it, of course, CZ found himself on the list of big names in the industry… and list of billionaires. In 2021, Binance provided more than $9.5 trillion in operations, according to Forbes, giving it significant weight in the market, and CZ has amassed a legacy of nearly $17.4 billion even now in the midst of the crypto winter.
The path has not been easy, marked by tight regulatory scrutiny in countries like the US, Japan or the UK, well-known hackers in 2019 or 2022, accusations of alleged ties to China, or the industry’s inherent ups and downs. Fluctuations in CZ’s personal fortunes, worth over $90,000 million, is a good seismograph.
His own figure has often dominated controversy. Beyond the criticism of his company’s ties, he’s gotten muddy more than once, like when he used his Twitter profile. Labeling Craig Wright as a ‘scammer’ or took legal action against the Hong Kong publisher of Bloomberg Businessweek for what he considered libel in one of his articles.
Changpeng Zhao has been one of the biggest names in the crypto arena for many years, but in the past two weeks plus a reputation Thanks to his role in the soap opera FTX and the FTT token, an episode that shook the entire market.
In early November, after a CoinDesk report on FTX sparked suspicion among investors, Binance announced his decision that it will liquidate any FTT still on its books. The move didn’t go too well for his opponent, and that’s how it was understood in FTX, though CZ always insisted his goal was to “build, not fight.” “A competitor is chasing us with false rumors,” said Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX.
But the company was already plunged into a liquidity and confidence crisis that would soon lead to its bankruptcy and the departure of the now discredited Bankman-Fried. Since that time FTX soap opera News of a possible hack after the bankruptcy filing hasn’t stopped weighing in on the US regulator’s investigation that FTX may have used the money its clients had invested in high-risk investments, or even a millionaire hole. . “I screwed up”, finally confirmed via Twitter Bankman-Fried himself.
However, CZ’s role was not limited to announcing its liquidation of FTX tokens. He considered buying it, an approach that was publicly launched just before his competitor’s downfall, and was cast aside after analyzing the company’s complex situation. Having caught the eye of the market more than ever since then, ZC reflects the changes the industry needs in the midst of the crypto winter: “We need more transparency to work with regulators around the world to develop the industry more robust. They need to play a key role.”
Today, more than ever, the focus is on the “self-made man” who has had an enlightenment on the table and shows it off with a deck of poker. the pulse does not tremble big “all in”.
“Cryptocurrencies are not disappearing. We’re still here,” Zhao stressed, in statements recently reported by CNN, concluding with a speech that practically coincided with the announcement of “an industry recovery fund” to mitigate the damage from the collapse of FTX and support “solid” projects with a liquidity. facing crisis: “Let’s rebuild”.
There are those who already see in their movement an attempt by TFX to capitalize on the media decline. strengthen the image he is taking on the role of the “good guy” in the crypto arena occupied by his own company and, until recently, Bankman-Fried. All-in-one or not, the idea is clear: keep playing.
Cover image: Web Summit (Flickr)