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Perhaps Binance’s CZ Isn’t World’s Richest Ethnic Chinese Person After All – Report

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 3 min read
Changpeng Zhao. Source: Instagram, Binance


Just over a week after a major Chinese media outlet claimed that the Binance Founder and CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao is the richest ethnic Chinese person alive, another report has surfaced questioning the logic of the original report.

In an article published by the media outlet Yijian Finance, the integrity and reliability of Caijing Magazine’s original post on the subject were called into question.

As reported, Caijing Magazine published a Weibo post at the end of November featuring a “top 5” rich list of the wealthiest Chinese people alive – with Zhao topping the list by virtue of the fact that Binance’s stock was thought to be worth so much.

Quoting data from unnamed “insiders,” as well as previously published information from Forbes that Binance’s value was estimated at USD 300bn, Caijing Magazine noted that Zhao was believed to own 30% of Binance’s shares. This meant that the Binance Founder was worth some USD 90bn, it claimed. It added that Zhao “ranks among the top 10 richest people in the world.” The post also noted that Binance’s daily trading volume had reached the USD 76bn mark.

But the Yijian Finance author claimed that there were a number of reasons to suggest that Caijing Magazine may have used faulty logic to construct its list, namely the following:

  • The valuation of USD 300bn appears to come from a Wall Street Journal article from November 11, which quoted “company insiders” as stating that “if Binance were public, it could be worth up to USD 300bn,” adding that this valuation was made by unnamed “former executives.” The “authority” of “former executives” and unnamed “insiders” was called into question – particularly as Zhao has not personally commented on a valuation.
  • Zhao has never stated publicly how many shares he owns in Binance. Furthermore, in what appeared to be a rebuttal of the Ciajiing Magazine rich list, Zhao also tweeted shortly after the Weibo post was published, writing: “Valuations without liquidity [don’t] mean much.”
  • The list contained factual errors, such as the age of the Tencent founder “Pony” Ma (Ma Huateng).
  • To calculate the wealth of super-rich individuals, media outlets “cannot rely solely on so-called ‘insiders,’ the author added. Instead, such lists “generally” make their calculations based on “stocks and fixed assets of recognized value.” As Binance is not a publicly listed firm, and Zhao’s ownership is not publicly available, the calculations are little more than “just an estimate or a subjective guess” – with a lack of “objective authority” backed “by data.”
  • Daily trading volumes can fluctuate wildly, and cannot be used to make calculations of this sort.
  • Rich lists are notoriously difficult to compile and are rarely confined to a “top 5.”
  • The timing of the report is suspicious, the author claimed, noting that the “virtual currency industry” is “banned in China.”The author accused Caijing Magazine of attempting to drive up web traffic to its site, adding that presenting Zhao as such a wealthy individual was a “dangerous” move.

However, some Chinese netizens have suggested that Zhao’s true wealth could be found within his crypto holdings. He has previously stated that some “100%” of his net worth was “invested in crypto.”

Zhao also stated that his portfolio was entirely made up of bitcoin (BTC) purchased in 2014, as well as undisclosed binance coin (BNB) holdings.

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