Who doesn't love a good success story? Here in crypto, we absolutely dig the heartwarming 'rags to riches' narratives, as they give us a glimmer of hope that one day we too will find a 100x and ride our Lambos off into the sunset. With that enticing image in mind, it may be a wise idea to examine the path of people who actually managed to succeed in the industry.
Changpeng Zhao: net worth, age & bio
Known for: CEO of Binance
Net worth: $28 billion (Bloomberg)
- Changpeng Zhao, often known as "CZ," is the founder and CEO of Binance, one of the largest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Binance was launched in July 2017.
- Before launching Binance, CZ had significant experience in the blockchain sector, having worked as the Head of Development at Blockchain.info and also as a member of the team at OKCoin, another cryptocurrency exchange.
- CZ is known for his active social media presence, frequently using platforms like Twitter to communicate with Binance users and the wider crypto community. He's a strong advocate for cryptocurrency adoption and blockchain technology.
- Binance experienced explosive growth under CZ's leadership, becoming the world's largest crypto exchange by trading volume within a year of its launch.
Brad Garlinghouse: net worth, age & bio
Known for: CEO of Ripple
Net worth: around $10 billion
- Brad Garlinghouse is the CEO of Ripple Labs Inc., the San Francisco-based company behind the real-time gross settlement system, cryptocurrency (XRP), and remittance network known as Ripple.
- Prior to Ripple, Garlinghouse held senior roles at Yahoo and AOL. He joined Ripple in 2015 and became CEO in 2016.
- Under Garlinghouse's leadership, Ripple has formed partnerships with major global financial institutions and remittance services with the aim of streamlining their cross-border transactions.
- Garlinghouse and Ripple Labs were named in a lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in December 2020 over the alleged sale of unregistered securities (XRP). The outcome of this lawsuit is still pending, and its outcome is believed to be pivotal for the entire crypto industry.
Joseph Lubin: net worth, age & bio
Known for: co-founder of Ethereum and CEO of ConsenSys
Net worth: $5 billion
- Joseph Lubin is a co-founder of Ethereum, a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts, and the blockchain software technology company ConsenSys, which he founded in 2014.
- Through ConsenSys, Lubin has incubated and accelerated hundreds of blockchain projects, solidifying it as one of the leading blockchain technology companies globally.
- In addition to Ethereum and ConsenSys, Lubin has made significant investments in various blockchain startups, contributing to the growth and development of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
- Lubin is known for his optimistic outlook on blockchain's potential, foreseeing a future where decentralized systems could disrupt traditional sectors.
Barry Silbert: net worth, age & bio
Known for: CEO of Digital Currency Group
Net worth: $3.2 billion (Forbes)
- Barry Silbert is the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG), a company focused on the digital currency market. DCG is the parent company of Grayscale Investments, Genesis Trading, and CoinDesk.
- Before founding DCG in 2015, Silbert created SecondMarket, a platform for buying and selling illiquid assets, which he later sold to NASDAQ.
- Grayscale Investments, a subsidiary of DCG, is known for its Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which allows institutional investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without owning the underlying asset.
- Silbert is also known for his early investments in more than 100 Bitcoin-related companies through his Bitcoin Opportunity Corp.
Brian Armstrong: net worth, age & bio
Known for: co-founder of crypto exchange Coinbase
Net worth: $2.6 billion
- Brian Armstrong is the co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, which he established in 2012.
- Prior to founding Coinbase, Armstrong worked as a software engineer at Airbnb and also co-founded the educational website UniversityTutor.com.
- Coinbase's business model includes secure transactions and storage for various cryptocurrencies, a professional trading platform for advanced traders (Coinbase Pro), and a suite of other cryptocurrency-related services.
- Armstrong played a significant role in pushing for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency and has been an advocate for the potential of decentralized finance.
Chris Larsen: net worth, age & bio
Known for: co-founder and executive chairman of Ripple, a blockchain technology company
Net worth: $2.6 billion (Forbes)
- Chris Larsen is a co-founder of Ripple Labs Inc., the blockchain-based payments company behind XRP cryptocurrency.
- Larsen stepped down as CEO in 2016 but continues to serve as executive chairman, shaping the company's strategy.
- Known for his entrepreneurship in fintech, Larsen's vast holdings in XRP contribute to his substantial wealth.
Jed McCaleb: net worth, age & bio
Known for: ex-CTO of Ripple, now co-founder and CTO of Stellar
Net worth: $2.4 billion (Forbes list)
- Jed McCaleb is a well-known figure in the blockchain industry, being one of the co-founders of Ripple, a blockchain-based digital payment protocol, in 2012.
- Despite leaving Ripple in 2013 due to internal disagreements, McCaleb retained a significant amount of XRP, Ripple's native cryptocurrency, which he has been selling off gradually over the years.
- After his departure from Ripple, McCaleb went on to co-found the Stellar Development Foundation in 2014, launching the Stellar network and its native cryptocurrency, Lumens (XLM).
- Stellar was designed as an open-source, decentralized protocol for digital currency to fiat currency transfers, aiming to enable cross-border transactions between any pair of currencies.
Mike Novogratz: net worth, age & bio
Known for: CEO of Galaxy Digital
Net worth: around $2 billion
- Michael Edward Novogratz is the founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital, an investment management company dedicated to the digital assets, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology industry. He launched the fund in 2018.
- Before founding Galaxy Digital, Novogratz was a principal and a member of the board of directors of Fortress Investment Group and also served as its Chief Investment Officer of the Fortress Macro Fund.
- Novogratz is known for being an outspoken Bitcoin and crypto bull. He even went so far as to claim to be “the only guy in the world that's got both a Bitcoin tattoo and a Luna tattoo”. After Luna lost almost 100% of its value in May 2022, Novogratz said that he plans to keep it forever as a reminder that he is "not always right."
Winklevoss twins: net worth, age & bio
Known for: co-founders of Gemini cryptocurrency exchange
Net worth: $1.6 billion
- Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, also known as the Winklevoss twins, are American entrepreneurs known for co-founding HarvardConnection (later renamed ConnectU) and their legal battle with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
- They entered the cryptocurrency space by investing heavily in Bitcoin in its early days. By 2013, they reportedly owned approximately 1% of all outstanding Bitcoin, an investment that has paid off enormously as the price of Bitcoin has risen.
- In 2014, the twins established Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian that allows customers to buy, sell, and store digital assets.
- The Winklevoss twins have also proposed the creation of a Bitcoin ETF, although their proposal has been rejected multiple times by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Michael Saylor: net worth, age & bio
Known for: ex-CEO and current executive chairman of MicroStrategy
Net worth: $1.2 billion
- Michael Saylor is the executive chairman of MicroStrategy, a publicly traded business intelligence company founded in 1989. He stepped down as a CEO in August 2022 to focus solely on Bitcoin.
- In August 2020, under Saylor's leadership, MicroStrategy became the first major corporation to invest a large portion of its treasury in Bitcoin, marking a significant milestone in the mainstream corporate adoption of cryptocurrency.
- As of April 2023, MicroStrategy held over 140,000 Bitcoins, valued at several billion dollars, making it one of the largest corporate holders of Bitcoin.
- Saylor has become a prominent advocate for Bitcoin, frequently speaking at conferences and appearing on media outlets to discuss the benefits of cryptocurrency as an investment and store of value.
Fred Ehrsam: net worth, age & bio
Known for: co-founder of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform
Net worth: $1.1 billion (Forbes)
- Fred Ehrsam is a co-founder of Coinbase, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, which he established alongside Brian Armstrong in 2012.
- He served as the President of Coinbase until 2017, during which time he contributed significantly to the platform's growth and acceptance.
- After leaving his executive role at Coinbase, Ehrsam co-founded Paradigm, a cryptocurrency-focused investment firm.
- Ehrsam's net worth is largely tied to his holdings in Coinbase and other digital assets.
Justin Sun: net worth, age & bio
Known for: founder and CEO of TRON Foundation, a blockchain-based decentralized platform
Net worth: around $1 billion
- Justin Sun is the founder of the Tron Foundation, a blockchain-based platform that aims to decentralize the internet and support decentralized applications. He launched Tron in 2014.
- Prior to Tron, Sun was the Chief Representative and Advisor for Ripple Labs in Greater China, helping to introduce and popularize the Ripple payment protocol in the region. He also founded his own social media platform, Peiwo.
- Sun is also known for his $4.57 million winning bid in 2019 to have lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, aiming to convince the renowned crypto-skeptic of the potential of cryptocurrencies.
- In addition to Tron, Sun acquired BitTorrent, the world’s largest decentralized file sharing protocol, in 2018, further bolstering his influence in the crypto and blockchain space.
Jesse Powell: net worth, age & bio
Known for: co-founder and ex-CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Kraken
Net worth: around $1 billion
- Jesse Powell is the co-founder and ex-CEO of Kraken, one of the largest and oldest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, which he started in 2011.
- Powell stepped down from his role as the exchange's CEO in September 2022 to "focus on a broader crypto advocacy."
- Prior to founding Kraken, Powell was the managing director at Verge Center for the Arts, a non-profit space for contemporary art, and co-founder of Lewt, Inc., a company providing services for online game players.
- Under Powell's leadership, Kraken has expanded its operations globally and serves more than 6 million customers worldwide.
Song Chi-Hyung: net worth, age & bio
Known for: CEO of Dunamu and founder of Upbit, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea
Net worth: $950 million (Forbes)
- Song Chi-Hyung is the Founder and former CEO, currently Chairman, of Dunamu, a prominent South Korean fintech and blockchain company.
- Under his leadership, Dunamu launched Upbit, which rapidly became one of South Korea's largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
- Initially, Dunamu was founded as an e-book platform in 2012, but after an unsuccessful run, it pivoted to become a stock market data aggregator.
- Song has shown considerable innovation in mobile payment systems, including creating patented technology to combat illegal payments.
Vitalik Buterin: net worth, age & bio
Known for: co-founder of Ethereum
Net worth: estimated around $540 million
- Vitalik Buterin co-founded Ethereum, the second-largest public blockchain by market capitalization, launched in 2015. Ethereum is known for its introduction of smart contracts and the foundation of the decentralized application (DApp) ecosystem.
- He conceptualized Ethereum to overcome the limitations of Bitcoin, providing not just a decentralized payment system, but a platform for developing decentralized applications (DApps).
- Buterin also co-founded Bitcoin Magazine in 2011, where he wrote hundreds of articles about the crypto world. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential people in the industry and is a frequent speaker at cryptocurrency conferences.
- He has received several recognitions and awards for his work in blockchain technology, including the Thiel Fellowship in 2014, which awarded him $100,000 to drop out of school and work on Ethereum.