16 People Who Became Crypto Billionaires


There’s no shortage of stories about smart or lucky investors making millions of dollars from well-timed crypto trades, particularly in the pre-winter boom years. The people who built the systems, developed the software and founded the companies that those investors use, on the other hand, earned not millions, but billions.

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The world of blockchain billionaires is a very small and exclusive fraternity. Not only aren’t there many of them, but their ranks include several partners who both got rich at the same time after co-founding the same company together.

Keep reading to meet the crypto billionaires who made a fortune building the blockchain world that many mainstream Americans are just learning about now.

Bitcoins placed beside Coinbase App on iPhone, illustrating one of the largest Bitcoin providers, photographed in Cologne, Germany, 14th of April 2021.

Fred Ehrsam

Net worth: $1 billion

Fred Ehrsam first learned about digital currency as an avid “World of Warcraft” player. In 2012, he co-founded Coinbase with Brian Armstrong, who also appears on this list. Coinbase went on to become the biggest cryptocurrency brokerage in America.

According to Forbes, Ehrsam still owns 6% of the company and sits on the board despite leaving Coinbase in 2017. One year later in 2018, he founded the crypto investment firm Paradigm.

San Diego, California, Nov 17th 2015: The bit coin was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 as a digital form of money but no one truly knows who  Satoshi Nakamoto is.

Michael Saylor

Net worth: $1 billion

Michael Saylor was a billionaire, then he wasn’t, and now he is again. The MIT grad and former rocket scientist founded the business analytics software firm MicroStrategy in 1989. He rode the dotcom wave to a 10-figure net worth until the dotcom bust ended his stint as a billionaire.

According to Forbes, he reclaimed membership in the three-comma club with a well-timed purchase of tens of thousands of bitcoins.

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Bitcoin, Ripple XRP, Dogecoin, Ethereum crypto coins row on green background.

Jed McCaleb

Net worth: $2.2 billion

Few billionaire crypto pioneers go back as far as Jed McCaleb, who founded Mt. Gox in 2010 as the first legitimate cryptocurrency exchange. Mt. Gox has been a notorious part of crypto folklore since the exchange was hacked in the tumultuous early days of Bitcoin.

McCaleb sold Mt. Gox one year before the hack. Two years later in 2012, he co-founded Ripple with Chris Larsen — more on him shortly — and according to Forbes, that’s where he made his real money. McCaleb received 9 billion XRP as a Ripple founder, and it’s estimated that he still owns 3.4 billion, which represents the bulk of his wealth.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Shutterstock (12360860i)In this photo illustration the OpenSea logo seen displayed on a smartphone with the NFT (Non-fungible token) logo In the background.

Devin Finzer

Net worth: $2.2 billion

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Blockchain billionaire Devin Finzer made his fortune not in cryptocurrencies, but in NFTs. The CEO and co-founder of the NFT marketplace OpenSea, Finzer previously worked as a software engineer for Pinterest.

In 2021, when investors valued his company at $13.3 billion, Finzer and OpenSea co-founder Alex Atallah became the world’s first NFT billionaires, according to Forbes.

NFT_iStock-1362689325

Alex Atallah

Net worth: $2.2 billion

OpenSea co-founder and CTO Alex Atallah shares the title of the world’s first NFT billionaire with fellow co-founder Devin Finzer. Both he and Finzer own an estimated 18% of the $13.3 billion NFT marketplace, according to Forbes.

Web3 on binary numbers background.

Nikil Viswanathan

Net worth: $2.4 billion

Nikil Viswanathan co-founded Alchemy with Joe Lau in 2020, and today, thousands of blockchain and Web3 companies rely on the company’s software. Before founding Alchemy, the duo — both Stanford grads — built Down to Lunch, a meetup app that at one point was No. 1 in the Apple Store.

WEB3 next generation world wide web blockchain technology with decentralized information, distributed social network.

Joe Lau

Net worth: $2.4 billion

Joe Lau — not to be confused with Hong Kong real estate magnate and fellow billionaire Joseph Lau — co-founded Alchemy in 2020 and currently owns a 26% stake, according to Forbes. The company spun off Alchemy Ventures in 2021 to invest in its current clients’ crypto endeavors.

Coinbase app for cryptocurrency trading

Brian Armstrong

Net worth: $2.6 billion

Coinbase Global is the largest crypto exchange in America, and as CEO, Brian Armstrong is in charge of it all. Armstrong was way out in front of the crypto trend. The former Airbnb software engineer co-founded Coinbase at the dawn of the crypto era in 2012 with Fred Ehrsam.

The company went public in 2021 and is traded on the Nasdaq. At one point, Coinbase briefly topped a market cap of $100.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by SASCHA STEINBACH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11718315m)Illustration of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (bottom-R), Ethereum (C), Ripple (R) and Cardano (L) on a monitor showing a stock barometer, Duesseldorf, Germany, 20 January 2021.

Chris Larsen

Net worth: $3.1 billion

Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen stepped down from the position of CEO at the end of 2016, but he still serves as executive chairman. Like Armstrong, Larsen was way ahead of the crypto curve, launching Ripple with Jed McCaleb in 2012 to facilitate international blockchain payments.

It wasn’t his first foray as a digital pioneer either. A generation earlier, he cofounded the home lender e-Loan.

bitcoin and ethereum cryptocurrency coins

Barry Silbert

Net worth: $3.2 billion

Former investment banker Barry Silbert founded Digital Currency Group and serves as its CEO. DCG is a conglomerate of five crypto-focused firms, including the massive Grayscale, which manages $28 billion worth of Ether and Bitcoin. DCG also operates a network of subsidiaries that have invested in more than 200 crypto-themed startups.

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Bangkok, Thailand - 1 July 2021: Cryptocurrency on Binance trading app, Bitcoin BTC with altcoin digital coin crypto currency, BNB, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, defi p2p decentralized fintech market.

Song Chi-hyung

Net worth: $3.5 billion

Song Chi-hyung worked at a mobile payment company before he became the founder and chairman of the largest crypto exchange in his native South Korea. According to Forbes, he hit the big time in 2021 when his company, Dunamu, raised $85 million at a valuation of $8.7 billion.

Business man stock exchange trader broker looking at pc computer screen, investor manager analyzing financial chart trading online investment data price crypto currency market graph, managing risks. stock photo

Gary Wang

Net worth: $5.9 billion

Gary Wang co-founded the cryptocurrency exchange FTX in 2019 with Sam Bankman-Fried, who you’ll meet shortly. The MIT grad previously worked at Google aggregating airline prices for millions of flights. According to Forbes, Wang owns 16% of FTX and 18% of its U.S. operations, which are valued at $8 billion.

NEW YORK - FEB 8, 2017 - Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss attend the amfAR Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on February 8, 2017, in New York.

The Winklevoss Twins

Net worth: $3.4 billion each

For the most important twins in tech history, it’s only natural that even Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’s net worths would be identical. The famous Facebook brothers co-founded the crypto exchange Gemini in 2014, making them major players on the cutting edge of both the social media and blockchain revolutions — and they leveraged the first to win the second.

According to Forbes, they used their $65 million legal settlement with Mark Zuckerberg to stockpile bitcoin.

Binance shutterstock_1139617637

Changpeng Zhao

Net worth: $17.4 billion

At the start of 2021, Changpeng Zhao was worth just $1.9 billion. At the start of 2022, his net worth had climbed to $65 billion.

Not a bad year.

The Chinese-Canadian coder founded Binance and serves as its CEO. According to Forbes, Binance facilitated trades worth more than $9.5 trillion in 2021, enough to make Zhao a very wealthy man. Even after the crypto winter erased nearly $48 billion of his wealth, Zhao is still the No. 19 richest person on Earth.

Sam Bankman-Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried

Net worth: $21.2 billion

After working for a fund that uses quantitative analysis to trade ETFs, Sam Bankman-Fried co-founded his crypto exchange FTX with Gary Wang in 2019. Today, he is the king of the crypto magnates.

Bankman-Fried, who studied physics at MIT, also launched the Alameda Research trading firm. According to Forbes, he became one of history’s richest people under 30 when investors valued FTX at $40 billion in 2021.

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All net worth information from Forbes.

This article originally appeared on
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16 People Who Became Crypto Billionaires

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.



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