Fortunes rise and fall in the volatile world of cryptocurrency, but over the last few weeks, they’ve only moved in one direction—down.
The total value of all outstanding cryptocurrency tokens is down over 26%, and Bitcoin is down 25% since March 11, when Forbes counted 19 crypto billionaires. Now, just 16 are billionaires, Forbes estimates.
For moguls whose net worths are hitched to token prices and publicly traded stocks of crypto firms, it’s been a difficult few weeks. Eleven of the industry’s wealthiest individuals have collectively lost nearly $60 billion, Forbes calculates, as the plunge in crypto erased nearly $400 billion in market value.
One person accounted for the vast majority of that loss. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) was the industry’s wealthiest person in March with an eye-popping $65 billion fortune. (Binance previously announced it plans to invest in Forbes through a special purpose acquisition vehicle). Today, Forbes estimates he is worth $17.4 billion, based on the declining multiple of Coinbase, Binance’s publicly traded peer. Not that CZ is worried. The billionaire, who has previously brushed aside speculation on his net worth, tweeted Wednesday: “We need to respect the market, with a level of caution too. It goes up and down in cycles. And especially the fact that it doesn’t always make sense.”
Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, founders of publicly traded crypto exchange Coinbase, both lost more than half of their fortunes. Armstrong, Coinbase’s CEO, is worth $2.8 billion, down from $6.6 billion on March 11. Ehrsam, who left the company in 2017, has fallen from the billionaire ranks; Forbes estimates his net worth at $986 million. Coinbase shares, which closed on Friday at $67.87, have fallen 57% since March 11, and 80% from their all-time high of $343 last November.
On Sunday, Ehrsam—in an apparent vote of confidence for crypto—tweeted a photo of The Big Short’s Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale), the legendary hedge fund investor who successfully shorted the housing market in 2008. On Tuesday, Armstrong denied that Coinbase was at risk of bankruptcy after a public filing spooked investors.
Michael Saylor, a Bitcoin bull and CEO of software firm Microstrategy, is no longer a billionaire. The market turbulence has been a double whammy for Saylor, hitting his personal stash of 17,732 bitcoins and his MicroStrategy stock, which has fallen 47% since March 11.
MicroStrategy shares are closely correlated with Bitcoin’s prices, because the company has spent over $4.5 billion on the cryptocurrency, at an average purchase price of $30,700 per token. That investment is currently underwater, with Bitcoin trading around $30,030 as of 4:00pm eastern time. Like his peers, Saylor doesn’t seem worried. “The ₿est is yet to come,” he tweeted Friday morning.
Jed McCaleb and Chris Larsen, two co-founders of blockchain-based payments system Ripple, have lost $300 million and $1.1 billion, respectively. XRP (Ripple’s native token) has fallen nearly 50%. Venture capitalist Tim Draper, who bought around 30,000 bitcoins in 2014 from a U.S. government auction of the Silk Road’s confiscated bitcoins, has also departed the three-comma club.
The holdings of crypto tycoons whose fortunes are tied up in venture-backed companies have not yet been marked down—for now, at least. That’s why Sam Bankman-Fried, the shaggy-haired founder of crypto trading platform FTX, is still worth $21 billion, down only $3 billion since March. FTX raised $400 million in January at a $32 billion valuation, with institutional investors like the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board jumping on the crypto firm’s cap table. On Thursday, Bankman-Fried revealed he was taking advantage of the downturn and had built a 7.6% stake in Robinhood, a trading app popular with crypto investors and retail stock investors.
The same goes for Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss—Mark Zuckerberg’s college nemeses, turned Bitcoin billionaires. The twins’ Bitcoin holdings has slumped, but Gemini, the private crypto exchange they founded and run, is still valued at $7.1 billion, based on a fundraising round in November.
Unsurprisingly, there is little sympathy out there for crypto’s richest.
“Crypto billionaires are still crypto billionaires,” Scott Welker, a digital assets investor and podcaster, tells Forbes. “The larger concern is the small investors that were all in crypto, and have lost everything.”
DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that nothing in this video shall be construed to be financial, legal or tax advice. The content of this video is solely the opinions of the speaker who is not a licensed financial advisor. All personal opinion is intended for general information purposes only