The value of one bitcoin may be in the tens of thousands of dollars today, but its initial value was almost non-existent. In fact, it’s grown so exponentially that there are even bitcoin billionaires thanks to their smart investments years before. Sounds crazy, right? Well, you might be able to learn from their successes. Below is a bitcoin billionaires list, along with the stories behind how they got there.
Did bitcoin create any billionaires?
Out of the millions of people who own bitcoin, a few have earned some hefty returns from their investments. Many of these folks were early investors who believed in the token’s potential value before buying it became as easy as it is today. Below are eight investors who have become crypto billionaires. (All net worth figures are valid as of December 7, 2021.)
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss
Identical twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have made headlines over the years for several reasons. For starters, they’ve earned titles as Olympic rowers. But perhaps most notoriously, they previously sued Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea for a social network service and turning it into Facebook. In a legal settlement in 2008, the brothers received $45 million in Facebook shares and $20 million in cash.
In 2012, the brothers invested some of their settlement in bitcoin. They then continued to expand their experience in the crypto world: In 2014, they founded the crypto exchange Gemini. The brothers also continued growing their crypto portfolio with both bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Today, the 40-year-olds still have about 70,000 bitcoin. Between this investment, other digital assets, and stakes in traditional companies, the Winklevoss twins have amassed $5 billion each in wealth.
Tim Draper was the first venture capitalist of Silicon Valley. He made early investments in online communication services and has since invested in modern-day tech companies. When bitcoin first introduced a revolutionary opportunity for digital transactions, Draper saw the token’s potential. He wasted no time purchasing tokens and soon became an outspoken advocate of bitcoin and blockchain technology.
In 2014, the U.S. Marshals auctioned off 30,000 bitcoins they seized from a crypto black market named the Silk Road. Draper won the bid and collected all 30,000 bitcoins. At the time, one bitcoin was worth about $600. He continued his interest in crypto by investing in several cryptocurrency companies. Today, his investments have earned him a net worth of more than $1.5 billion.
Current bitcoin price
Venture capitalist Matthew Roszak is a co-founder of Bloq, a company that provides infrastructure for cryptocurrencies and their blockchains. Roszak’s first bitcoin purchase in 2012 marked the beginning of his support for crypto. He has since invested in more than 20 bitcoin startup companies and served on boards supporting bitcoin’s widespread acceptance.
The value of Roszak’s bitcoin investment rose and fell as the token experienced significant fluctuations over the next several years. By 2020, his crypto wallet of bitcoin and other digital tokens had reached a value of $300 million. In just a year’s time, that value would ultimately swell to about $1.2 billion.
Brian Armstrong began his career as a software engineer. He read the bitcoin white paper in 2010 and later made his first bitcoin purchases. At the time, his investment totaled $1,000 at just $9 per coin.
In 2012, Armstrong co-founded the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. Based in San Francisco, the exchange brought in $1.3 billion in revenue in 2020. With about a 19 percent stake in Coinbase and his initial bitcoin investments, Armstrong’s net worth is now $11.7 billion, according to Forbes.
At 29 years old, Sam Bankman-Fried is the world’s wealthiest crypto investor. He founded Alameda Research, a crypto trading firm that turned a $1 billion profit in 2020. Bankman-Fried is also the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
Unlike some of the other bitcoin billionaires on this list, Bankman-Fried wasn’t an early bitcoin investor. In fact, he didn’t own a single token in 2017. However, once he learned about bitcoin, he quickly realized the coin’s great potential. He cited bitcoin’s growing international demand, significant price volatility, and increasing amounts of attention as the reasons why he invested in bitcoin and founded FTX.
At the time, bitcoin was trading at significantly different prices in countries like Japan than in the U.S. Bankman-Fried wanted to tap into these variations and profit from them. His firm has since experienced rapid growth and, last year, was generating up to $1 million every day. With a net worth of $26.5 billion, Bankman-Fried made the New York Times billionaires list in no time.
Micree Zhan is an electronics engineer and the founder of Bitmain, which is China’s largest manufacturer of crypto mining computer chips. In 2019, Zhan’s net worth was about $5.2 billion. In addition to bitcoin, Zhan owned 1.6 million tokens of Bitcoin Cash.
After major disputes between Zhan and Bitmain’s co-founder, Zhan lost his position as CEO of the company. He eventually returned to his role within the organization and resumed some of his original duties, though he didn’t recover his entire stake in Bitmain. Near the end of 2020, his net worth was $3.2 billion.
Chris Larsen is the co-founder of several million-dollar technology startups. Ripple, one of these startups, is a crypto network and blockchain with its own native cryptocurrency. Along with Ripple, Larsen has purchased other digital assets such as bitcoin. He has also suggested improvements to the bitcoin blockchain such as ditching proof-of-work algorithms for more centralized approaches.
In 2018, Larsen’s company ownership and crypto investments were worth an estimated $17 billion. After a market crash later that year and a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Larsen’s net worth experienced a significant dip. He has since recovered some of his assets’ previous value and is now worth about $6 billion.
Chanpeng Zhao, also known as “CZ,” founded the cryptocurrency exchange Binance. He owns a 30 percent stake in the company, which experienced a total trading volume of $2 trillion in 2020. The exchange also has its own digital token, Binance Coin (BNB), that ranks two spots below bitcoin in market cap.
Zhang launched Binance in 2017 after he sold his house to fund his bitcoin purchases and proposed company. The platform became a world leader in crypto trading in less than a year. Since then, Zhao has accumulated a net worth of almost $2 billion. Binance has also expanded its operations to include bitcoin mining and several other crypto-related services.
Since bitcoin’s value is prone to significant price fluctuations, you should take caution with digital assets. However, smart decisions can help you enjoy your crypto assets when they’re in the green. And the best part is, you don’t have to be an expert to buy bitcoin.
With Coinme, buying bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency can be simple. Our blog features tons of articles on cryptocurrency so you can learn about your desired tokens. And at our conveniently-located crypto kiosks, you can easily make your first bitcoin purchase when you’re ready.