Since the appearance of cryptocurrencies, a select group of people have become protagonists in the sector and have amassed incredible fortunes.
From the founders of major cryptocurrency exchanges to grassroots investors and hedge funds who have been on the right side of the fence, all these people have become rich through their involvement in cryptocurrencies.
The sector has introduced fundamental changes to the concept of wealth creation, offering ordinary citizens the opportunity to amass unparalleled fortunes in a relatively short period.
Whether investing in early digital currencies like bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) or launching your successful blockchain-based platforms-based platforms, these cryptocurrency millionaires and billionaires have reshaped the financial landscape and become influential figures in the sector.
This article delves into the backgrounds, stories, and meteoric rises to wealth of 11 of these individuals who have harnessed the disruptive power of cryptocurrencies to secure a place in the global elite.
Changpeng Zhao (CZ)
Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as CZ, is a Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of trading volume.
CZ’s path to wealth began in the early 2000s when he began working in technology. He held various positions at Bloomberg Tradebook, Fusion Systems, and Blockchain.com. His experience in these roles gave him a deep understanding of trading systems, matching engines, and blockchain technology.
CZ’s wealth primarily comes from his success with Binance and its affiliated tokens. He founded the company in 2017 and led it to become one of the world’s most popular and influential cryptocurrency exchanges.
Through Binance, CZ introduced the Binance coin (BNB), which gained widespread adoption as the exchange grew in popularity. Since then, the value of BNB has appreciated significantly, further contributing to CZ’s wealth.
It is important to note that CZ’s estimated net worth is not publicly available as Binance is a private company. However, Forbes estimates CZ’s wealth at $10.2 billion. Some analysts believe the crypto billionaire is much richer, but these claims are speculation. The media also states that the crypto boss was worth $65 billion in 2022, before the collapse of cryptocurrencies.
Brian Armstrong is an American entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States.
Before Coinbase, Armstrong worked as a software engineer at several technology companies, including IBM and Airbnb. However, his involvement with cryptocurrencies paved the way for his fortune.
In 2012, Armstrong co-founded Coinbase. Thanks to its easy-to-use interface and robust security measures, the platform has gained popularity among beginners and experienced cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
Coinbase’s success has been closely linked to the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, particularly bitcoin. As the value of cryptocurrencies skyrocketed, Coinbase benefited from increased trading volume, transaction fees, and exchange fees, all of which contributed to Armstrong’s wealth.
Additionally, Coinbase became the first cryptocurrency exchange to go public. In April 2021, the company’s shares were listed on the Nasdaq exchange through a direct listing, making Armstrong a billionaire as his stake in the company gained significant value.
According to Forbes, Armstrong is now worth $3.8 billion. The cryptocurrency veteran’s wealth hit an all-time high of $6.6 billion last year before the cryptocurrency market crashed.
Barry Silbert is an American entrepreneur and investor best known as the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG), a venture capital firm focused on cryptocurrency.
Silbert began his career in finance, working at investment banking firm Houlihan Lokey, focusing on distressed debt. In 2004, he founded SecondMarket, an online marketplace for illiquid assets, including shares of private companies.
Silbert early recognized the potential of Bitcoin and founded the Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT) in 2013, which offered accredited investors the opportunity to invest in Bitcoin without needing to own the digital currency directly. The BIT became the first publicly traded BTC investment vehicle and played an essential role in popularizing Bitcoin.
In 2015, Silbert rebranded SecondMarket as Digital Currency Group (DCG), expanding the company’s focus to include not only Bitcoin but also other cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based technologies.
Since then, DCG has become one of the leading players in the cryptocurrency sector through its diverse investment portfolio and subsidiary companies, such as Grayscale Investments, Genesis, and CoinDesk.
Silbert has accumulated considerable wealth thanks to the success of his cryptocurrency and blockchain investments. According to Forbes, Silbert’s wealth is estimated at $3.2 billion.
Chris Larsen is an American entrepreneur and business executive known for his involvement in creating cryptocurrency companies. He co-founded Ripple Labs, the company behind the controversial blockchain-based payment protocol called Ripple.
Ripple’s XRP cryptocurrency quickly gained popularity and became one of the largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. And through his involvement in Ripple, Larsen amassed significant wealth.
Forbes has recognized him as one of the wealthiest people in the cryptocurrency industry. At the peak of XRP’s value in early 2018, Larsen’s estimated net worth reached $4.6 billion. His current net worth is estimated at $2.6 billion.
Jed McCaleb is an American programmer and entrepreneur. He is best known for being Ripple’s co-founder and former CTO, a digital payment protocol and decentralized cryptocurrency stellar lumen creator. (XLM).
In 2010, McCaleb became interested in Bitcoin and founded the first major Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox. The platform managed over 70% of all Bitcoin transactions at its peak. However, it faced security issues and ended up being hacked, losing a significant amount of BTC. McCaleb sold Mt. Gox to Mark Karpeles in 2011 and distanced himself from the platform.
Following his experience with Mt. Gox, Jed McCaleb turned his attention to creating a new decentralized cryptocurrency. 2014 he co-founded Ripple and was its chief technology officer until 2013.
After leaving Ripple, McCaleb focused on the creation of Stellar. Launched in 2014, the project aims to connect financial institutions and facilitate cross-border transactions for the unbanked population.
Jed McCaleb has amassed an enormous fortune through his companies, particularly the creation and development of Ripple and Stellar. Forbes estimates that he currently has a fortune of $2.4 billion.
Devin Finzer co-founded OpenSea, one of the largest marketplaces for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital assets. OpenSea gained widespread popularity with the rise of NFTs, unique digital assets verified by blockchain technology.
Before OpenSea, Devin Finzer worked as a software engineer at Pinterest. He partnered with Alex Atallah in 2017 to launch OpenSea, which quickly became a prominent NFT buying, selling, and trading platform.
The market gained significant attention in 2021 as NFTs went mainstream, attracting high-profile buyers and sellers. OpenSea has also reported billions of dollars in transaction volume on its platform, taking a small commission on each sale.
As a result, Finzer has amassed significant wealth through his role as co-founder of OpenSea. He is currently estimated to have a net worth of $2.2 billion.
Alex Atallah is a technology entrepreneur and another co-founder of OpenSea. Atallah has a very diverse background: he began his career in investment banking at JP Morgan before co-founding a couple of startups.
In 2010, he co-founded a mapping technology company called Sensopia, which developed the popular MagicPlan app, which allows users to create plans using augmented reality. The app was successful and contributed to Atallah’s initial success.
In 2017, Atallah shifted its focus to emerging blockchain technology and NFTs. Together with Devin Finzer, he co-founded OpenSea, which would become the leading marketplace for trading digital assets, particularly NFTs.
The company’s success has positioned Atallah as a leading figure in the NFT space. Like Finzer, Atallah’s net worth is estimated at $2.2 billion.
Kim Hyoung-Nyon is a well-known South Korean financial technology entrepreneur. He is co-founder and executive vice president of Dunamu, which operates South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.
Hyoung-nyon founded Dunamu with Song Chi-hyung in 2012. Since then, the company has become the most popular cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea and has attracted significant investments from notable companies such as Kakao Ventures and Altos Ventures.
Thanks to his participation in Dunamu, Hyoung-Nyon has become one of the first billionaires in the South Korean cryptocurrency sector. Forbes estimates his net worth at $1.95 billion.
Nikil Viswanathan and Joe Lau
Nikil Viswanathan and Joe Lau are co-founders of Alchemy, a technology company that provides infrastructure for blockchain developers. They started Alchemy 2017 to provide developers with tools and services to build decentralized applications (dApps) on the blockchain.
Alchemy offers a range of solutions to help developers improve their apps’ performance, scalability, and user experience. Viswanathan and Lau have technology and engineering backgrounds and have driven Alchemy’s growth and success in the blockchain sector.
In February last year, the company raised $200 million at a valuation of $10.2 billion, making Viswanathan and Lau billionaires. According to Forbes, Viswanathan and Lau are worth $1.8 billion each.
The Winklevoss Twins
The Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, are American entrepreneurs and investors known for their involvement in the early development of Facebook and their significant investments in the cryptocurrency sector.
In 2012, the Winklevoss twins discovered Bitcoin and began investing heavily in the currency, purchasing around 1% (approximately 100,000 BTC) of the total supply in circulation at the time. This early investment helped them amass substantial wealth as the currency’s value soared.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss co-founded Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange, in 2014. Gemini has become one of the leading exchanges in the United States. His participation in the exchange further contributed to his global wealth.
Forbes currently estimates their net worth at $1.5 billion each. His net worth hit an all-time high of about $4 billion last year.
He is an American entrepreneur and investor known for his involvement in the cryptocurrency industry. He co-founded Coinbase with Brian Armstrong in 2012.
Ehrsam’s journey to wealth began when he joined Goldman Sachs as a trader in the firm’s foreign exchange (forex) division. However, his interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology led him to leave Goldman Sachs and co-found Coinbase.
Under Ehrsam’s co-leadership, Coinbase experienced rapid growth and became one of the most prominent players in the cryptocurrency sector. It attracted millions of users and facilitated billions of dollars in cryptocurrency transactions.
Although Ehrsam left Coinbase in 2017, he made a fortune from his stake in the stock market. According to Forbes, Ehrsam is currently worth $1.3 billion.
The value of taking intelligent risks is evident.
Ultimately, it is undeniable that the rise of cryptocurrencies has created a new wave of millionaires and billionaires. Although they may have made their fortunes in different ways, they all have something in common: they saw the potential of this emerging technology and were willing to take some risks.
However, it is essential to note that not everyone who has entered the cryptocurrency market has been equally successful. Additionally, the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies and the ever-changing regulatory landscape make it essential for potential investors to proceed cautiously.
However, the stories of these cryptocurrency billionaires serve as a testament to the wealth-creating potential of this disruptive technology. As cryptocurrencies evolve and gain widespread acceptance, more success stories may be on the horizon.
Before you decide to invest in any cryptocurrency, always make sure to do your research first.