CZ tops Forbes crypto billionaires list amid Web3 and NFTs newcomers

  • Forbes has published its list of crypto billionaires, with Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao leading as FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried holds onto the second spot.
  • This year, there were seven newcomers to the list, including the two co-founders of OpenSea, the leading NFT marketplace as NFTs soared in 2021.

Bitcoin is trading at $45,000 at press time, and while it’s 34 percent below its all-time high, this has done little to hold back cryptocurrency billionaires. In fact, the number of crypto billionaires has shot up by 58 percent according to Forbes, even as Bitcoin continues to be rangebound and other cryptocurrencies trade sideways.

Forbes has published its annual crypto billionaires list, and while the top of the list hasn’t changed much from last year, there are new names on the list as NFTs and Web3 pushed new companies into multi-billion dollar valuations.

Crypto exchange founders top the list

Changpeng Zhao, the CEO and founder of Binance tops the list. CZ, as he’s fondly known, is worth a staggering $65 billion. However, his wealth has dipped from last year when the outlet estimated he was worth $96 billion. The Canadian citizen, who resides in Singapore, is the 19th richest man in the world, ranking ahead of PC pioneer Michael Dell and many more.

As Forbes notes, Binance reportedly processed two-thirds of all centralized crypto volume last year, generating $16 billion in revenue. CZ’s stake in Binance is the source of most of his wealth, with some estimates putting the value of the exchange north of $200 billion. He also owns Bitcoin and an undisclosed amount of BNB tokens, and depending on how much BNB he owns, he could be worth much more. CZ will also soon be a part-owner of Forbes after investing $200 million for a stake in the media giant.

Read More: Binance invested $200m into Forbes – here’s how important the move is

Second on the list is yet another founder of a leading cryptocurrency exchange – Sam Bankman-Fried. SBF is the founder, CEO and majority owner of FTX, an exchange that has shot to the limelight in recent years, with its main area of focus being crypto derivatives.

Forbes estimates that SBF is worth $24 billion. Last year, FTX raised $400 million at a $32 billion valuation in a round that saw participation of VC firms Paradigm and Sequoia, as well as buyout firm Thoma Bravo and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. FTX also has an independent subsidiary in the U.S – FTX.US – which has been valued at $8 billion itself. SBF, a Solana diehard fan, owns around half of all FTX operations.

And just like CZ did with Binance Coin, SBF is also behind FTT, the native token of his exchange. Forbes claims that he owns at least $7 billion worth of this token.

Related: FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried weighs in on the crypto market’s interrelation to the Ukraine Crisis

On the third spot is yet another founder and CEO of a crypto exchange, proof that those who sold shovels during the gold rush made the best bet. Brian Armstrong, the founder of America’s largest exchange Coinbase is worth $6.6 billion according to Forbes. Unlike the other two, Armstrong’s exchange is publicly traded after debuting on Nasdaq at a $100 billion valuation. Armstrong owns 19 percent of Coinbase.

Coming in at fourth is the first newcomer on the list, but just like the other three, he’s also an exchange founder. Forbes ranks Gary Wang as the fourth-richest crypto billionaire with his wealth being estimated at $5.9 billion. Wang is a co-founder of FTX alongside SBF and holds a 16 percent stake as well as over $600 million worth of FTT tokens.

The newcomers from Web3 and NFTs

The list contains some familiar names including Ripple co-founder and executive chairman Chris Larsen at $4.3 billion, Gemini exchange founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss at $4 billion each, Digital Currency Group CEO Barry Silbert at $32 billion, Ripple and Stellar founder Jed McCaleb at $2.5 billion and Coinbase and Paradigm founder Fred Ehrsam at $2.1 billion.

However, this year, there were new names on the list as well, catapulted into the crypto stratosphere by the rise of Web3 and NFTs. Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah are among the newcomers, with each being estimated to be worth $2.2 billion. The two are the founders of OpenSea, the leading NFT marketplace in the world. In January this year, OpenSea raised $300 million in a round that valued it at $13.3 billion, up from just $1.5 billion six months prior.

Related: OpenSea trading volume surges in January as Bored Ape craze hits new height

At $2.4 billion each, Alchemy cofounders Nikil Viswanathan and Joseph Lau are newcomers to the list as well. Their company offers a development platform for Web3 applications, with the likes of OpenSea and Kyber among its clients. In February, Alchemy raised $200 million at a $10.2 billion valuation to be the “Amazon Web Services for blockchain applications.”

Microstrategy’s Michael Saylor, VC guru Tim Draper and Upbit exchange founder Song Chi-hyung also made the list.

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