NEW DELHI: From the 40% plunge in a day to below $5,000 on 11 March 2020, Bitcoin has come a long way to hit its all-time high of $61,711.87 on 13 March this year. The breakneck rally over the past year has rewarded cryptocurrency believers and minted nine new crypto billionaires.
As many as 12 cryptocurrency billionaires made it to the Forbes’ 35th Annual World’s Billionaires List, up from just four last year. According to Forbes, the world’s wealthiest exploded to an unprecedented 2,755 — 660 more than a year ago. Altogether they are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion on the 2020 list.
When it comes to crypto billionaires, Forbes has three groups – investors, builders, and issuers.
The investors included the Winklevoss twins (Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss), and co-founder and CEO of MicroStrategy, Michael Saylor.
The twins are early investors of bitcoin, having started in 2012. As per Forbes, the net worth of the twins stood at $3 billion each as of 5 March, 2021.
Michael Saylor, who started accumulating bitcoin ahead of the current rally, has a net worth of $2.3 billion. Moreover, Saylor’s firm, MicroStrategy, holds 91,579 bitcoins that were acquired at an aggregate purchase price of $2.226 billion and an average purchase price of around $24,311 per bitcoin, inclusive of fees and expenses. At the current price, the total worth of MicroStrategy’s bitcoin holding stands at around $5 billion.
Among other early crypto investors who became billionaires last year include Matthew Roszak, chairman, Bloq, a blockchain infrastructure company, with a net worth of $1.5 billion, and Tim Draper. According to Forbes, Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, in 2014 bought $18.7 million worth of bitcoin that had been confiscated by US Marshals from the shuttered Silk Road black market. Those coins are now worth $1.5 billion.
Sam Bankman-Fried and Brian Armstrong featured among the billionaires that made their fortune from facilitating virtual currency transactions.
Fried, who came in at the 274th spot as the richest individual in the world, is crypto’s wealthiest billionaire with a net worth of $8.7 billion. He founded the quantitative trading firm Alameda Research and popular derivatives exchange FTX.
Armstrong, CEO and co-founder of exchange Coinbase, is the second wealthiest crypto billionaire with assets worth $6.5 billion. Coinbase, which is valued at $70-100 billion, will come out with its initial public offer (IPO) on 14 April. Last year, Armstrong’s net worth stood at $1 billion.
Moreover, Fred Ehrsam, who is co-founder of Coinbase, has a net worth of $1.9 billion.
Changpeng Zhao, founder, Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange in terms of volume, has assets worth $1.9 billion. Zhao is the only returnee to the 2021’s crypto billionaire list.
Barry Silbert was next with a net worth of $1.6 billion. According to Forbes, Silbert is the founder of Digital Currency Group (DCG), whose holdings include crypto news site CoinDesk and asset management firm Grayscale, which controls $44 billion worth of bitcoin, ether and other assets.
Among the coin issuers, Ripple’s co-founders Chris Larsen and Jed McCaleb had total assets worth $3.4 billion and $2 billion, respectively. While McCaleb is a new crypto billionaire, Larsen’s net worth last year stood at $2.6 billion. Over the last year, ripple has zoomed over 400% and its total market capitalisation currently stands at over $44.5 billion.