Over the last few months, the crypto market has been on a bearish run. The value of Bitcoin dropped to almost $20,000, a price that hasn’t it hasn’t gone down to since 2020. It’s true that the bullish run we have experienced over the last few years wasn’t going to last, but the market’s decline has been sharp.
We’ve even seen exchanges cease the withdrawal of Bitcoin in order to prevent the price from plummeting too low as people attempt to cash out. But, Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency that’s suffering. We are seeing prices of all cryptocurrencies drop – the crypto market as a whole has gone down.
There’s a mouth-watering amount of money floating about on cryptocurrency exchange platforms, with hundreds of thousands of transactions being made every day. Many investors look to take advantage of this by buying low and selling high to make a profit and we’ve all heard stories of investors and day-traders who have become rich off cryptocurrencies.
But, there’s a small minority who have become so wealthy off cryptocurrencies that they’ve become some of the richest people in the world. That’s what we’ll be exploring today – the 10 wealthiest people in crypto. We’ll look at who they are, what their net worth is, and how they made their wealth.
The richest people in cryptocurrencies
Sam Bankman-Fried is the richest person in the world when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Having co-founded the exchange platform FTX, the 30-year-old has a current net worth of $19.6 billion. He’s followed closely by Chinese-born Changpeng Zhao, the founder of Binance, who has a net worth of $17.4 billion. In third place is the co-founder of FTX, Gary Wang, with a net worth of $5.7 billion.
Cryptocurrencies are incredibly volatile – sometimes, we have seen wild swings in prices within hours. As such, the exact Forbes net worth valuations may be different at the time of reading this article. But, without further ado, let’s look into the top 10 wealthiest people in crypto.
Sam Bankman-Fried is the founder of cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX and one of the richest people in crypto. With an estimated net worth of $19.6 billion – that’s right, billion – he is the wealthiest person in crypto at this moment in time.
Born and raised in the United States of America, Sam is a graduate of one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Having majored in Physics with a minor in Mathematics, he graduated in the summer of 2014 and worked in various finance jobs for a few years. In 2017, he founded a quantitative trading firm called Alameda Research, a company he still has a majority stake in.
However, it wasn’t until April 2019, when he co-founded FTX with Gary Wang, that his net worth began to rise. Described as “by traders, for traders”, FTX is one of the largest exchanges for crypto derivatives and donates 1% of all its revenue to charity. Donating to charity is something that Sam Bankman-Fried heavily believes in – he gives 99% of his earnings to charity, keeping just 1% for himself.
Changpeng Zhao is one of crypto’s most famous and wealthiest people. Known as CZ, he is the founder of Binance. As of 2022, Binance is the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world when it comes to trading volume, and at the time of writing this article, Forbes estimate Changpeng’s net worth to be at $17.4 billion.
Changpeng Zhao was born in China but emigrated to Canada at the age of 13. After studying Computer Science at the esteemed McGill University in Montreal, he landed jobs in Tokyo and New York where he worked at the Tokyo Stock Exchange and at Bloomberg Tradebook. But, it wasn’t until 2017 that he got his big break.
After a few years of dabbling in various high-profile cryptocurrency projects, he launched the crypto exchange Binance in July 2017. By April 2018, it was the largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, which still holds true to this day. However, his rise in the crypto world hasn’t come without regulatory scrutiny. Due to the nature of cryptocurrencies being decentralised and the lack of regulations, government authorities have been wary of allowing him and his company to operate in their country. Therefore, to this date, his company has been forced to operate without a headquarters.
As CZ’s company, Binance Holdings Ltd, has grown and expanded over the years, so has his net worth. This is without even factoring in the wealth of his personal crypto wallet, which could raise his net worth significantly. However, despite reaching financial freedom a long time ago, he has stated that he plans to give away up to 99% of his wealth once he dies.
Gary Wang is the co-founder of FTX, and currency runs as its Chief Technology Officer. Whilst the ex-Google employee prefers to be out of the limelight, allowing Sam Bankman-Fried to tackle the press and be the face of the company, he owns 16% of the business. As such, his net worth is estimated at $5.7 billion.
Song Chi-hyung is the founder and chairman of Dunamu, the holding company for cryptocurrency exchange Upbit. A graduate of the renowned Seoul National University, Song has overseen the growth of Upbit to become the biggest crypto exchange in South Korea. As such, his net worth is estimated at $3.5 billion.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are perhaps best known for accusing the CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, of stealing their idea for Facebook. However, since then, they have become bitcoin millionaires and have since gone to become the first bitcoin billionaires. Forbes estimates that their current net worth is $6 billion – $3 billion each.
Using money they received from the $65 million settlement with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, they began investing heavily in Bitcoin in 2012, which still makes up the bulk of their investment portfolio. Now they boast a portfolio of various digital coins and crypto assets, the digital art platform Nifty Gateway which can be used to buy and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the crypto trading platform Gemini.
Chris Larsen is the co-founder and executive chairman of Ripple, a currency exchange system that instantly processes transactions globally using blockchain technology. His current net worth is estimated to be at $3 billion.
Graduating from Stanford University in 1991, Chris has been a businessman and angel investor in Silicon Valley startups since then. It wasn’t until 2012 when he co-founded Ripple – formerly called OpenCoin – that he began his foray into the world of crypto. With customers such as American Express and Santander, Ripple is one of the biggest payment networks out there. The cryptocurrency Ripple (XRP) is also the eighth largest in the world in terms of market capitalisation.
Since December 2020, the company has been in a lawsuit with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is still ongoing. Whilst the result of this lawsuit could affect his net worth considerably, for now, Chris remains one of the wealthiest people in crypto.
Brian Armstrong is the co-founder of Coinbase, the biggest crypto exchange in North America in terms of trading volume. His current net worth is estimated at $2.3 billion, making him one of the wealthiest people in the crypto ecosystem.
Working previously as a software engineer for Airbnb, he quit his job in 2012 to launch Coinbase, a crypto exchange platform that traded Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. With the help of his co-founder Fred Ehrsam, a former Goldman Sachs trader, they have grown the exchange platform to one of the biggest exchanges in the world. Whist its competitors have targeted crypto enthusiasts as its customer base, Coinbase has differentiated itself by creating a user-friendly platform to target retail investors. The company went public in a direct offering on Nasdaq on April 14, 2021, briefly reaching a market capitalisation of $100 billion before settling at $85 billion.
Michael Saylor is CEO of the business analytics software company MicroStrategy and has a net worth of $1.6 billion. Whilst he had a taste of billionaire status in the late 90s during the dot-com bubble, his net worth plummeted during the crash. He has regained billionaire status due to MicroStrategy’s aggressive acquisition of Bitcoin in 2020.
Instead of holding cash, MicroStrategy bought $250 million worth of bitcoin that year, adding a further $225 billion before the end of 2020. Over the following two years, MicroStrategy used nearly all their money to buy up as much Bitcoin as possible, even taking out loans to do so. As of 2022, the company holds over 120,000 Bitcoin, with Michael Saylor having a personal holding of over 17,000.
Jed McCaleb was one of the co-founders of Ripple in 2012, along with Chris Larsen. However, over disagreements with fellow founding members, he left the company in 2013. Shortly thereafter, he launched Stellar, a direct competitor to Ripple, offering fast international exchanges for all types of virtual money – both cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies.
Known as a blockchain pioneer and a key influence on the blockchain revolution, much of Jed’s estimated at $2.1 billion net worth comes from his holdings of the Ripple cryptocurrency, XRP.
Vitalik Buterin is one of, if not the most, famous name in the crypto world. With an estimated net worth of over $1 billion, he is the co-founder and face of Ethereum.
The 28-year-old was born in Russia but emigrated to Canada at the age of six. Having attended the University of Waterloo, he dropped out to create the open-source blockchain and cryptocurrency, Ethereum. Ethereum is currently the second-biggest cryptocurrency in the world in terms of market capitalisation, second only to Bitcoin. In addition to the cryptocurrency, the Ethereum platform allows the deployment of decentralised financial applications, negating the need for brokerages and banks. As such, there are a plethora of applications tied to the Ethereum network, making Vitalik’s creation one of the most valuable assets in the crypto world.