Top ten crypto billionaires in 2024

By Mobel 13 Min Read

Top ten crypto billionaires in 2024, The crypto winter has officially come to an end, marking a significant turnaround for the cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, has experienced an impressive surge, more than doubling in value over the past 12 months. In March, it reached an all-time high of $73,000 following the legalization of bitcoin-pegged exchange-traded funds in the U.S. According to data from CoinGecko, the total value of all outstanding cryptocurrencies has surged by 170%, adding approximately $1.6 trillion in market value during the same period.

This surge in value has resulted in the emergence of a new class of billionaires known as crypto billionaires. Forbes’ 2024 World’s Billionaires list reveals that at least 17 individuals have attained billionaire status through their investments and ventures in the cryptocurrency space. Together, these crypto billionaires boast a collective net worth of $93 billion, which includes their estimated crypto asset holdings, publicly disclosed stock holdings, and private assets. This represents a significant increase from the nine crypto billionaires recorded last year, with their collective wealth more than doubling from $37 billion.

For the third consecutive year, Changpeng Zhao, the founder and former CEO of Binance, retains the title of crypto’s wealthiest individual. Despite facing legal challenges, including pleading guilty to U.S. money laundering charges in November, Zhao’s net worth has skyrocketed to an estimated $33 billion, up from $10.5 billion the previous year. The bulk of his wealth stems from his majority stake in Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume.

Other notable gainers include Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, and Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase. Saylor’s net worth has surged to an estimated $4.4 billion, compared to $760 million the previous year, thanks to MicroStrategy’s heavy investments in bitcoin. Similarly, Armstrong’s net worth has soared to an estimated $11.2 billion, up from $2.2 billion, buoyed by the impressive performance of Coinbase’s shares, which have more than quadrupled over the past 12 months.

Additionally, Forbes’ annual billionaires ranking welcomes newcomers such as Giancarlo Devasini, Paolo Ardoino, Jean-Louis van der Velde, and Stuart Hoegner, all prominent shareholders of Tether, a controversial yet highly profitable stablecoin issuer. The list also features familiar faces like the Winklevoss twins, renowned venture capitalist Tim Draper, and Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb, highlighting the growing influence and wealth within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.


Here are the top ten

1. Changpeng Zhao

Net worth: $33 billion (vs. $10.5 billion) | Source of wealth: Binance

His wealth primarily stems from his involvement with Binance, the leading cryptocurrency exchange platform.

Despite facing legal challenges, including federal money laundering charges brought by the Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Zhao agreed to pay $200 million in fines last year as part of a settlement. Additionally, he agreed to step down as CEO of Binance and is prohibited from any involvement with the company for three years following his guilty plea. Despite these setbacks, his fortune remains largely intact.

Based on corporate documents and discussions with former employees, Zhao’s stake in Binance is estimated to be around 90%, valued at approximately $32.5 billion. Binance continues to dominate the crypto exchange market, boasting the highest trading volume globally. Forbes’ analysis suggests that Binance generated approximately $9 billion in revenue last year.

To estimate Binance’s market value, Forbes applied the price-to-sales multiple of Coinbase, a publicly traded peer, and further adjusted for factors such as Binance’s concentrated ownership, potential regulatory issues, and key-man risks associated with Zhao’s departure.

2. Brian Armstrong

Net worth: $11.2 billion (vs. $2.2 billion) | Source of wealth: Coinbase

Armstrong, who together with Fred Ehrsam co-founded Coinbase in 2013, holds the largest individual stake in the company, amounting to 18%. The cryptocurrency exchange’s stock has surged by 50% year-to-date and has increased more than threefold since the previous year, resulting in a market capitalization of nearly $60 billion. Starting from November, Armstrong has executed sales of Coinbase stock totaling over $170 million through an automated 10b5-1 trading plan.

3. Giancarlo Devasini

Net worth: $9.2 billion (vs. $4 billion in July) | Source of wealth: Tether

Devasini serves as the Chief Financial Officer and is likely the largest individual shareholder of Tether, the largest issuer of stablecoins in the cryptocurrency sphere. Stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency that is pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar or other stable assets and are utilized as a medium of exchange. With over 100 billion Tether tokens in circulation, the company has garnered substantial profits, amounting to $6.2 billion last year, primarily driven by higher interest rates on customers’ collateral. Devasini’s ownership stake in Tether is estimated to be around 47%, with Forbes valuing it based on the average price-to-earnings multiples of a selection of publicly traded mid-tier banks and asset managers.

4. Michael Saylor

Net worth: $4.4 billion (vs. $760 million) | Source of wealth: MicroStrategy, Bitcoin

Saylor emerges as the top gainer among crypto billionaires in terms of percentage growth on this year’s roster. The shares of MicroStrategy, the software firm he founded in the 1990s and transformed into a Bitcoin investment platform in recent times, have surged by nearly 500% compared to last year. Currently, the company boasts ownership of approximately 193,000 bitcoins, solidifying its position as the largest corporate holder of bitcoin globally, as confirmed by its Chief Financial Officer.

Moreover, Saylor’s personal bitcoin holdings are noteworthy. He disclosed in 2021 that he possesses 17,732 bitcoins, acquired at an average price of $9,882 per coin. Additionally, he is presently in the process of divesting approximately $200 million worth of MicroStrategy stock, a decision he made public at the onset of the year.

5. Paolo Ardoino

Net worth: $3.9 billion (vs. $1.8 billion in July) | Source of wealth: Tether

Ardoino currently holds the position of CEO at Tether, acting as its public representative, and is believed to possess a 20% ownership stake in the company. He initially entered the Tether ecosystem by joining its affiliated entity, Bitfinex, in 2014, where he served as a senior software developer. Ardoino’s professional background includes prior engagements in startup environments, where he honed his skills as a computer programmer.

6. Jean-Louis van der Velde

Net worth: $3.9 billion (vs. $1.8 billion in July) | Source of wealth: Tether

Formerly occupying the role of CEO at Tether, van der Velde currently functions as a symbolic leader entrusted with overseeing Tether’s crucial relationships with banks and regulatory bodies. He is reported to possess an approximate 20% ownership stake in the company. Van der Velde’s journey began when he departed the Netherlands in 1985 to pursue higher education in Taiwan. Following his academic pursuits, he played a pivotal role in co-founding numerous IT and technology startups across Asia before eventually joining Tether. Presently, he resides in Hong Kong.

7. Chris Larsen

Net worth: $3.2 billion (vs. $2.2 billion) | Source of wealth: Ripple, XRP

In 2012, Larsen played a pivotal role in establishing Ripple with the aim of streamlining international payments through the utilization of the XRP cryptocurrency. While he relinquished the position of CEO at Ripple towards the end of 2016, Larsen continues to serve as the executive chairman of the company. As per recent data from secondary markets disclosed to Forbes, Larsen commands an 18% ownership stake in Ripple, valued at approximately $3.8 billion by investors. Additionally, he possesses a substantial reserve of XRP, amounting to over 2.8 billion tokens, and holds nearly $1 billion in cash and investments, primarily derived from previous XRP transactions, according to Forbes’ estimations.

8. Fred Ehrsam

Net worth: $3.2 billion (vs. $930 million) | Source of wealth: Coinbase, Paradigm

In 2012, Ehrsam partnered with Brian Armstrong to establish the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. Although he departed from the company’s operational role in 2017, Ehrsam retains a position on the board and maintains ownership of approximately 5% of its stock. Following his tenure at Coinbase, Ehrsam co-founded Paradigm in 2018, a cryptocurrency investment firm that presently oversees assets exceeding $8 billion.

9. Matthew Roszak

Net worth: $3.1 billion (vs. $1.1 billion) | Source of wealth: Bitcoin, Ethereum

Having ventured into Bitcoin investment as an early adopter in 2010, Roszak’s financial portfolio predominantly thrives on his initial forays into cryptocurrencies. His wealth stems from strategic investments in various digital assets, such as Ethereum and BNB, the native token of Binance. Additionally, Roszak actively oversees Bloq, a blockchain startup specializing in investing in other crypto initiatives and providing consultancy services for blockchain projects.

While Coinbase recorded a revenue of $2.9 billion in the previous year, marking a decline from $3.1 billion in 2022 and $7.8 billion in 2021—coinciding with the last significant surge in cryptocurrency prices—the company has managed to restore profitability. Despite reporting a net loss of $2.6 billion in 2022, Coinbase generated a net income of $100 million in the most recent fiscal year.

10. Jed McCaleb

Net worth: $2.9 billion (vs. $2.4 billion) | Source of wealth: XRP sales

A pioneer in the early days of cryptocurrency, McCaleb played a significant role in shaping the industry. He founded Mt. Gox, the pioneering bitcoin exchange, in 2010, marking a pivotal moment in crypto history. Although he sold the exchange just a year later, his contributions laid the groundwork for the evolution of digital currency trading.

Subsequently, McCaleb co-founded Ripple in 2012, although he departed from the company shortly afterward due to disagreements with his co-founders. His primary source of wealth stems from the sale of a substantial portion of the original 9 billion XRP tokens he acquired as a co-founder of Ripple. McCaleb concluded his XRP sales in 2022, marking the end of his involvement with the cryptocurrency.

Furthermore, McCaleb founded Stellar, a direct competitor to Ripple, in 2014, further solidifying his influence in the blockchain space. Presently, he dedicates his time and financial resources to Vast, a space exploration company that he actively supports and promotes.

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