Binance CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao says regulatory response is a ‘top priority tactical task’ for the crypto exchange
It’s been a tough winter for cryptocurrencies. Friday’s job report sparked a rebound, but that offset only a fraction of the trillion dollars in value lost since the crypto peak last fall.
I spoke Friday with Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao, better known as “CZ,” who despite the downturn still enjoys an estimated net worth in the neighborhood of $100 billion—near Warren Buffett/Bill Gates territory. I asked him how long crypto winter would last. “That’s the trillion-dollar question,” he said. “Nobody knows, and I don’t either. Historically, Bitcoin goes through four-year cycles—there was 2013, 2017, and now this one. The third time might be different. Nobody really knows.”
But CZ says he has no doubt that, in the long term, crypto will continue to grow. “Four years from now, there will be another peak. There are more people coming to the industry, and more use cases in the industry. We want to be ready for exponential growth, but we also want to be ready for the worst-case downturn.” He says Binance plans to conserve cash and invest heavily in a bear market.
I asked CZ the biggest challenge Binance faces, and he was quick to cite regulatory issues. CZ was born in China, which has banned most cryptocurrency activity, and educated in Canada. He now operates from Dubai—which has one of the friendliest crypto regulatory regimes. “In the short to medium term, regulatory is a big focus. We are in a critical stage. We are hiring a lot of senior regulators. This is a top priority tactical task. I am relatively confident we will get through this regulatory phase.”
In the longer term, CZ says he faces the same fundamental challenge that every company does: organizing to stay successful in the face of accelerating change. “The pace of disruption is so much faster than it has ever been,” he says. “In terms of management philosophy, my philosophy is don’t do management. Let everyone excel. It’s important to align incentives. But we need more innovative and decentralized financial structures.”
More news below.
After a weeklong Lunar New Year break, China’s stock market returned today with a rally. By midafternoon the CSI 300 index was up 1.6%, and the Shanghai Composite had risen by 2.1%. Wall Street Journal
The increasingly tiresome saga around Spotify and Joe Rogan, the contrarian whose podcast it exclusively distributes for $100 million (but doesn't publish, CEO Daniel Ek insists), has expanded to take in Rogan’s historical and frequent use of the N-word. Spotify has quietly removed 70 old Rogan episodes from its platform over this, Rogan has apologized, and Ek has told disgruntled staff that the racism row is terrible but “canceling voices is a slippery slope.” Fortune
Ottawa is under a state of emergency after the Canadian capital was invaded by anti-COVID truckers. The city’s police department called what’s going on a “siege” amid a “nationwide insurrection.” The horn-tooting, firework-firing “Freedom Convoy” has the support of Donald Trump, Elon Musk, and far-right types around the world. And some Australian truckers appear to be following suit. Fortune
A bunch of former Salomon Brothers employees are reviving the “legendary name that has a tremendous following.” The “full-service investment bank” will provide equity capital to large businesses in New York State. Fortune
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
The EU is scrambling to figure out how to tackle the potential fallout of a Russian (re)invasion of Ukraine, in particular the possibility of Russia reducing gas flows to Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron is meeting with Putin today, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is in Washington to meet with U.S. President Biden. Financial Times
Australia will in a couple weeks’ time open its doors to tourists (double-vaccinated, natch) after two years of keeping them out. Qantas’s share price rose 6% on the announcement. The Australian tourist industry shed 12% of its jobs in the year to September. Fortune
The British fund manager Abrdn has reportedly had to delay a ballot of its shareholders over a deal (the potential takeover of stock-picking platform Interactive Investor) because U.K. law requires it to send shareholders paper versions of the documents—and thanks to supply-chain problems, it couldn’t get enough paper. Sky News
Two fugitive cruise ships (such are the times we live in) owned by Genting Hong Kong have been seized in the Bahamas over $4.6 million in unpaid fuel bills. The Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity were arrested Friday, happily with no guests on board. Bloomberg
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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