Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, also called “CZ,” opened Fortune Magazine, ending his recent media silence.
The founder of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, broke his media silence to speak to Fortune Magazine. CZ, real name Changpeng Zhao, has been largely silent in public this year. A fact the profile explains as “a decision based on the fraught regulatory environment and frustration with what Binance views as media mischaracterization of the company and Zhao.”
Over 6,000 words long, the profile explores CZ’s past in rural China and his experience as a first-generation immigrant to Canada. Further, the article discusses why CZ left Shanghai, where Binance was founded in 2017.
To put it bluntly, officials in Beijing did not like cryptocurrency. China first banned banks from conducting cryptocurrency transactions in 2013. In 2017, the regime also banned initial coin offerings (ICOs) and shut down cryptocurrency exchanges to prevent funds from leaving China and prevent financial fraud. The article describes CZ’s weeks-long “frantic but surreptitious” effort to move data hosted on more than 200 Alibaba servers.
Zhao moved Binance to servers on Amazon Web Servers, out of the reach of the Chinese government. Eventually, the company moved to Tokyo, ending his 12-year stint as a businessman in China.
Binance has moved several times
Binance has reportedly had to move operations again and again due to regulatory issues in different countries. After moving to Japan, the regulators demanded that Binance be registered as an exchange, which was not acceptable to its founder. Binance moved to Malta before it was decided that the company would operate without a headquarters.
At one point in the interview, CZ suggests that the crypto culture has made him more eager to keep looking for better places to do business. “We don’t want to change the rules or even avoid them too much, we just want to look for more suitable places,” he said.
However, Zhao’s country-hopping ways have infuriated Binance’s critics.
The company is currently in talks with the US Department of Justice and other regulators about a broad settlement offer. However, a recent lawsuit by the CFTC against Binance has raised questions about the viability of such a settlement.
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