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Mr and Miss Binance 👫
A lowdown on the two key figures of the world's biggest crypto exchange. Changpeng Zhao founder and the face of Binance. Yi He, the little known co-founder, but a constant in exchange's journey.
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From Humble Beginnings to Crypto Tycoon
Changpeng Zhao, widely known as CZ, emerged from modest roots in China, moving to Vancouver at the age of 12.
Early work at a gas station and as a McDonald's cook fuelled his journey, culminating in a 10th-place ranking in Canada's national math competition and a degree in computer science from McGill University.
After stints at the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Bloomberg, Zhao delved into the high-frequency trading industry, founding Fusion Systems in 2005.
His foray into cryptocurrency began in 2013 after a fateful poker game introduced him to Bitcoin.
The Rise of Binance
In 2015, Zhao launched Bijie Tech, crafting software for crypto exchanges, but China's crypto bans led to its demise.
Seizing an opportunity in 2017, he co-founded Binance with Yi He, and within five months, it skyrocketed to become the world's leading crypto exchange.
The success was attributed to rapid coin listings, multilingual support for Chinese investors, and competitive fees.
Global Footprint and Regulatory Tightrope
Binance's journey was not without hurdles.
Operating initially in Shanghai, Zhao navigated regulatory challenges by moving operations through Hong Kong, Singapore, Malta, and later, Dubai.
The absence of a definitive global headquarters became a point of contention amid accusations of ties to China, prompting Zhao to assert his Canadian citizenship.
Challenges and Legal Woes
As Binance's success grew, so did regulatory scrutiny.
In response, Zhao established Binance.US in 2019, aiming to adhere to US regulations.
An internal plan to "insulate" the main platform from US regulators mounted legal troubles for the exchange.
This year, Binance faced lawsuits and enforcement actions from US regulators.
The SEC charged Zhao and Binance entities with operating unregistered exchanges, misrepresenting controls on Binance.US, and the unregistered sale of securities.
Binance's elusive nature faced challenges as it withdrew from key markets.
Zhao's Personal Fortune and Future Prospects
Amid these challenges, Zhao's estimated fortune dwindled from $29 billion in 2022 to $17 billion in 2023.
As legal battles intensify, questions loom over Binance's future and whether it can weather the storm that threatens not only Zhao's standing as the "Teflon Man" but the stability of the entire crypto market.
Co-founder and Strategic Leader at Binance
Early Ventures in Showbiz
Yi He's journey to the forefront of the cryptocurrency world began in 2012 when she transitioned from being a TV show host, described by her as a "poor stupid TV show host," to a prominent figure in the crypto space.
From a rural village in Sichuan, China, known for its spicy cuisine and pandas, Yi He's background was far from privileged.
From TV to Crypto Evangelist
Her break came when she hosted the travel show "Beautiful Destinations," displaying a humorous and adventurous side as she navigated through markets, handled crabs, worms, and even ate a live worm.
In 2013, she discovered Bitcoin and, despite lacking a tech background, became an active evangelist in crypto communities.
OKCoin and the Rise of Binance
He's involvement in the crypto scene deepened when she joined Okcoin, where she played a pivotal role in hiring Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the future co-founder of Binance.
In 2017, Zhao invited her to join the newly established Binance exchange.
Yi He's influence extended beyond her role as Chief Marketing Officer, and she was instrumental in rewriting Binance's white paper.
Relationship with CZ and Corporate Ambiguity
Reports suggest a romantic relationship between Yi He and CZ, and they are rumoured to have two children together.
Yi He has been ambiguous about their relationship, emphasizing their business partnership and co-founder status.
This lack of clarity extends to her role at Binance, where she has held titles such as Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Customer Service Officer.
Leadership Amid Regulatory Challenges
As Binance faces scrutiny from authorities globally, Yi He, as the leader of business strategy, remains a crucial figure.
The company's decentralised structure and reliance on multiple entities have drawn regulatory concerns, with the US SEC describing it as an "opaque web of corporate entities."
Venture into Binance Labs
Last August, Yi He was appointed to head Binance Labs, the exchange's venture capital arm with $7.5 billion in assets and over 200 projects in its portfolio.
This move adds another layer of responsibility to her already enigmatic role within the organisation.
Dubai Residence and Web3 Enthusiast
Currently residing in Dubai, a growing crypto hub, Yi He is a vocal advocate for the industry.
She believes that web3 will onboard over a billion people in the next five years.
Despite her intense commitment to Binance, she maintains a low profile, giving few interviews in English and primarily engaging with Zhao's and Binance's messages on social media.
Challenges and Executive Exodus
Binance has faced challenges in recent months, marked by an exodus of senior executives amid increasing regulatory pressures.
Yi He's steadfast commitment to the company and her strategic role position her as a key player in navigating Binance through this turbulent period.
Personal Journey and Minimalist Lifestyle
Yi He's personal journey from a modest background to a leading figure in the crypto space is marked by resilience and bold career choices.
Her commitment to Binance is so profound that she claims to have no hobbies, emphasizing that working for Binance is her ultimate passion.
Future Prospects and Pressures
With ongoing legal battles and the potential for a criminal case looming, Yi He, alongside CZ, faces mounting pressure.
The evolution of Binance and its leadership's response to regulatory challenges will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of Yi He's role and influence in the crypto industry.
TTD Week That Was 📆
Saturday: Year of SAM outs 💣
Friday: It's official 💍
Thursday: A Letter to the President 📝
Wednesday: SEC's Big Catches 🔐
Tuesday: Are bulls running? 🐂
Monday: Circle's IPO Plans 🔈
TTD Week in Funding 💰
Taproot Wizards. $7.5M. a bitcoin-focused Ordinals project, wants to make bitcoin magical again.
CFX Labs. $9.5M. Chicago based stablecoin settlement network working on transforming global payment processing and monetisation.
Sleek. $5M. Web3 social networking platform to promote ownership economy through blockchain-powered social media.
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