Changpeng Zhao, CEO of crypto exchange Binance, has become one of the richest men in the world, with a fortune of $96 billion, per Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index

The near-$100 billion dollar wealth amassed by CZ (as he is known in crypto circles) doesn’t even factor in his own personal crypto holdings. They include Bitcoin and Binance’s native cryptocurrency, Binance Coin (BNB), which is currently valued at $440; one year ago, BNB was worth less than $50.

CZ's fortune dwarfs those of many of the crypto industry’s biggest names, including FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (who holds $22.5 billion according to Forbes), and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong (who holds $9.6 billion). 

Per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, CZ’s wealth even eclipses that of Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious and—to date—anonymous creator of Bitcoin. Reports last year indicate that Satoshi's crypto holdings amount to as many as 1.1 million Bitcoin, worth $45.8 billion at today's prices.

Outside the world of crypto, CZ's peers include Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk who boasts an estimated net worth of $263 billion, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, whose net worth is estimated at $188.4 billion.

Binance itself is also doing well. According to Bloomberg’s analysis, the crypto exchange generated $20 billion in revenue in 2021—a figure which reportedly dwarfs 2021 revenue expectations for Coinbase. 

“Coinbase might appear to be the 800-pound gorilla from a U.S. perspective, but Binance is significantly bigger,” DA Davidson & Co. analyst Chris Brendler told Bloomberg

Despite these lofty figures, Binance cautioned Bloomberg’s estimations, claiming “crypto is still in its growth stage,” and that “[crypto] is susceptible to higher levels of volatility. Any number you hear one day will be different from a number you hear the next day,” the exchange told Bloomberg

What lies ahead for CZ and Binance? 

Despite its successes, Binance has faced repeated pushback from regulators around the world. 

In Holland and Japan, regulators published consumer warnings about Binance. In Italy and the Cayman Islands, regulators publicly warned that Binance was not licensed to do business in their respective countries. 

Malaysian regulators hit the exchange with enforcement action for operating illegally in the country. This resulted in all Binance entities active in Malaysia having to immediately cease media and marketing activities, as well as immediately restricting Malaysian investors from accessing the exchange’s official Telegram group. 

In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a consumer warning against Binance Markets Limited, the exchange’s UK entity. Months later, the FCA doubled down and said Binance was incapable of being regulated after the UK entity failed to provide basic information to the regulator. 

Even in Singapore, where CZ has been living recently, the exchange failed to gain a license.

Looking for a home

Amid these regulatory conflicts, CZ has been hard at work trying to find a home for Binance. 

In September of last year, CZ finally admitted—after having long insisted that the exchange was decentralized—that Binance needed a headquarters to satisfy the world’s regulators. 

Towards the end of last year, it was rumored that Ireland could become the exchange’s headquarters. Of late, though, Binance has turned its focus to Dubai. 

Days before Christmas, the exchange announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority. 

“With the MoU, Binance will help advance Dubai’s commitment to establishing a new international Virtual Asset ecosystem that will generate long-term economic growth through digital innovation,” the exchange said at the time. 

Importantly, MoUs are not legally binding. For now, the exchange’s search for a home continues.