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CEO, Binance

Legend has it that the idea for Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, first came to Changpeng “CZ” Zhao around his buddies’ poker table in Shanghai. He’d already designed software for futures trading and wanted to solve the problem of trading cryptocurrencies for real money. Zhao — now the world’s 13th-richest person, worth an estimated $77 billion, according to Bloomberg — said he sees the Binance exchange as a bridge between the worlds of crypto and traditional finance. But the company has been issued warnings by governments from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo and is outright banned in China and the U.K. To remain a bridge, Zhao will have to fall in line with regulators, and potentially do something antithetical to crypto’s founding ideas: centralize in one place.

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