A man who went from working at McDonald’s to being worth almost £75billion says the start of his rise to wealth was all due to a game of poker.
Changpeng Zhao, 44, whose family was deported from China and moved to Canada when he was 12, helped his parents make ends meet as a teenager by flipping burgers and making night shifts at a gas station.
After studying computer science in college, he got a job at the Tokyo Stock Exchange and later started his own company where he developed trading software systems for brokers.
In 2013, CZ, as his friends call him, was at the poker table with two cryptocurrency experts and mined them for all the information he could get on new financial phenomena.
He then decided to go “all-in” and dedicate his life to cryptocurrencies, even selling his Shanghai apartment to buy Bitcoins.
Soon after, their value dropped from £442 to £147, but he decided not to cash out and instead set up his own currency exchange, called Binance, where people can trade cryptocurrencies.
It has now become the most popular trading site on the planet.
But despite a personal worth of around £75billion, observers say Mr Zhao lives quietly, owning no supercars, yachts or fancy watches. He told financial firm Bloomberg: ‘I don’t care about wealth, money or rankings.
And not all card tricks were successful. Binance has been banned from operating in various countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, as governments attempt to crack down on cryptocurrencies.
A Binance spokesperson said the company “works with regulators around the world and we take our compliance obligations very seriously.”
And despite being worth £75 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, that figure doesn’t even include his own personal holdings of Bitcoin and other currencies.
He remains coy about his loot, with a statement from Binance saying, “Crypto is still in its growth phase. It is susceptible to higher levels of volatility. Any number you hear one day will be different from a number you you hear the next day.”
And despite his dizzying rise to riches, CZ still has some way to go to rank among the greatest hitters in the world.
The Bloomberg Index puts Elon Musk first at £194bn, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos second at £138bn and French luxury goods supremo Bernault Arnault third at £126bn.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is next with £100bn, followed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with £92bn.
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