The man who turned from working at McDonald’s to nearly £75 billion says the beginning of his rise to fortunes was all poker.
Changpeng Zhao, 44, whose family was expelled from China and moved to Canada when he was 12, helped his parents make ends meet as a teenager by flipping burgers and doing night shifts at a gas station.
After studying computer science at university, he got a job at the Tokyo Stock Exchange and went on to found his own company where he developed trading software systems for brokers.
In 2013, CZ, as he is known to his friends, was at the poker table with two cryptocurrency experts and mined them to get all the information he could get from new financial phenomena.
He then decided to go all-in and dedicate his life to crypto, even selling his apartment in Shanghai to buy bitcoins.
Soon after it dropped in value from £442 to £147, he decided not to cash out and instead created his own cryptocurrency exchange called Binance, where people could trade cryptocurrency.
It has now become the most popular trading site on the planet.
But despite a personal value estimated at £75 billion, observers say Mr Chow lives quietly, owning no supercars, yachts or luxury watches. He told Bloomberg Financial, “I don’t care about wealth, money, or ranking.”
And not every turn of the card was a success. Binance has been banned from operating in various countries, including the USA and the UK, as governments are trying to crack down on cryptocurrency.
A Binance spokesperson said that the company “works with regulators around the world and we take our compliance obligations very seriously.”
And although it is worth £75 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, this figure does not even include his personal holdings of bitcoin and other currencies.
Still shy about his loot, Binance said, “Crypto is still in its growth phase. It is subject to higher levels of volatility. Any number you hear one day will be different from the number you hear the next.”
And despite his dizzying rise to fortunes, Czechoslovakia still has a way to rank among the world’s biggest hitters.
The Bloomberg index put Elon Musk in the first place with 194 billion pounds, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in second place with 138 billion pounds, and French luxury goods Bernolt Arnault in third place with 126 billion pounds.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is next with £100 billion, followed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with £92 billion.
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