Fortunes rise and fall in the volatile world of cryptocurrency, but over the past few weeks they have only moved in one direction: down.
The total value of all cryptocurrency tokens in circulation is down over 26% and Bitcoin is down 25% since March 11, when Forbes counted 19 crypto billionaires. Now only 16 are billionaires, Forbes estimates.
For tycoons whose net worth is tied to token prices and publicly traded shares of crypto firms, the past few weeks have been tough. Eleven of the richest people in the industry have collectively lost nearly $60 billion, Forbes calculates, as the crypto crash wiped out nearly $400 billion in market value.
One person accounted for the vast majority of this loss. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) was the richest person in the industry in March with an impressive fortune of $65 billion. (Binance previously announced plans to invest in Forbes through a special purpose acquisition vehicle). Today, Forbes estimates it to be worth $17.4 billion, based on the declining multiple of Coinbase, the publicly traded peer of Binance. Not that CZ is worried. The billionaire, who has already set aside speculation on his net worth, tweeted Wednesday: “We have 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 Coinbase, a publicly traded crypto exchange, have both lost more than half of their fortunes. Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, is worth $2.8 billion, up from $6.6 billion on March 11. Ehrsam, who left the company in 2017, fell from the ranks of billionaires; Forbes estimates his net worth at $986 million. Coinbase shares, which closed 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 picture of The big courtMichael Burry (played by Christian Bale), the legendary hedge fund investor who successfully sold the real estate market in 2008. On Tuesday, Armstrong refuse that Coinbase was at risk of bankruptcy after a public filing scared off investors.
Michael Saylor, a Bitcoin bull and CEO of software company Microstrategy, is no longer a billionaire. The market turmoil 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 highly correlated to Bitcoin prices, as the company has spent over $4.5 billion on the cryptocurrency, at an average purchase price of $30,700 per token. This investment is currently underwater, with Bitcoin trading around $30,030 as of 4:00 PM EST. Like his peers, Saylor doesn’t seem worried. “The ₿est is yet to come,” he said. tweeted Friday morning.
Jed McCaleb and Chris Larsen, two co-founders of blockchain-based payment system Ripple, lost $300 million and $1.1 billion, respectively. XRP (Ripple’s native token) has fallen almost 50%. Venture capitalist Tim Draper, who bought an estimated 30,000 bitcoins in 2014 at a US government auction of confiscated Silk Road bitcoins, has also left the three-comma club.
The holdings of crypto tycoons whose fortunes are tied to venture-backed companies have yet to shrink, at least for now. That’s why Sam Bankman-Fried, the shaggy-haired founder of crypto trading platform FTX, is still worth $21 billion, down just $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 capitalization table. On Thursday, Bankman-Fried revealed he was taking advantage of the recession and building 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, academic enemies of Mark Zuckerberg turned Bitcoin billionaires. The twins’ bitcoin holdings have plummeted, but Gemini, the private crypto exchange they founded and run, is still valued at $7.1 billion, based on a November fundraising.
Unsurprisingly, there is little sympathy for the richest in crypto.
“Crypto billionaires are still crypto billionaires,” said digital asset investor and podcaster Scott Welker. Forbes. “The biggest concern is with the small investors who were all in crypto and lost it all.”