Cryptocurrencies may be volatile but still alluring
There has been a huge spike in the value of unregulated cryptocurrencies, which are ‘mined’ using secret algorithms based on the blockchain technologies. According to Forbes, the average 2017 price change of Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP, three of the most common cryptocurrencies, is a whopping 14,409 per cent. Cryptocurrencies are characterized by extreme volatility, and so, when it comes to cryptocurrency’s richest, it’s easy come, easy go. With bitcoin losing half its value during the first quarter of 2018, some of the wealthiest investors have been dragged down. Nonetheless, they still remain strong and optimistic about the future.
In 1997, Chris Larsen co-founded the mortgage lender e-Loan and eight years later founded Prosper, a peer-to-peer lender valued at more than $1 billion. In 2012, Larsen, with the help of his co-founder Jed McCaleb, founded Ripple.
The blockchain technology-based project solves the security and speed problems of the peer-to-peer transactions. From its inception, not only Prosper benefited from it, but also any financial institution that facilitates international payments. Among its more than 100-plus customers are Mitsubishi Financial, Bank of America and Santander.
Today, Larsen, 57, no longer serves as executive chairman and CEO of Ripple (XRP), although he is still an active participant holding a 17% stake.
Larsen, a Stanford M.B.A and veteran Silicon Valley operator, took and still holds the top spot with a net worth of approximately $8 billion in February, 2018, and $3 billion today.
Toronto native Joseph Lubin, 53, with a background in robotics and software engineering, transitioned into the finance world building trading systems, running a hedge fund, and working for Goldman Sachs Wealth Management Division. In 2014, he formed ConsenSys, a 600-employee platform, located in 28 countries, that serves as the “venture production studio” for the Ethereum ecosystem.
Lubin still holds a majority stake in ConsenSys and is considered to be the single-largest holder of Ethereum, with valuations as high as $10 billion. Today, his crypto net worth is calculated to be around $5 billion, as of February 2018.
Changpeng Zhao, 41, known as CZ, is Binance’s founder and CEO. As a son of two teachers that emigrated to Vancouver, Canada in the late 1980’s, Zhao worked flipping burgers at McDonald’s and at a gas station to help with the family expenses. After studying computer science at Montreal’s McGill University, Zhao spent time in both Tokyo and New York. He first built a system for matching trade orders on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, then at Bloomberg’s Tradebook, where he developed software for futures trading.
Binance’s initial coin offering (ICO) took place in July, 2017. Today, ten months later, the platform has 6 million users, making it the world’s largest crypto-currency exchange. In addition, its value has gone up to $1.3 billion. As the largest owner of Binance tokens, Zhao plans to use 20% of his profits every quarter to shrink Binance’s token capitalization by 50%. This will only move him to the top of the crypto world’s richest. CZ’s crypto net worth is calculated to be around $2 billion as of February, 2018.