Not all blockchain billionaires survive the harsh conditions.
IIt’s been a cold crypto winter for blockchain backers, builders, and HODLers (crypto speaks for patient investors). This also goes for the people at the top.
America’s richest crypto tycoons lost billions of dollars over the past year as Bitcoin tumbled from over $50,000 to under $20,000, Coinbase exchange shares tumbled by more than 75% and the total market value of all cryptocurrencies has been halved from around $2.2 trillion to less than $1 trillion. , according to data from CoinMarketCap.
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Last fall, a record seven crypto-billionaires made the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the United States. This year, there are only four left. The quartet is collectively worth $27.3 billion. Last year’s seven were worth $55.1 billion.
Things weren’t supposed to be like this. The value of crypto assets and public recognition of crypto hit new highs last year, as Bitcoin hit a high of $69,000 in November and capital surged in NFTs and “Web3” projects . 2022 was supposed to be the year of crypto.
Instead, the sector nosedived. The collapse of major crypto projects — including stablecoin Terra, hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, and lenders Celsius Network and Voyager Digital — has rocked the industry. Fear, compounded by inflation, rising interest rates and a market sell-off, dampened investor enthusiasm.
Amid the collapse, some US crypto moguls have emerged as saviors of the industry. Others “bought the dip”. And a few have taken up new puzzle hobbies.
Here are the four American crypto-billionaires who made Forbes 400 this year, and those who fell short.
Net worth is as of September 2, 2022
Sam Bankman Fried
Net worth: $17.2 billion (from $22.5 billion previously)
Forbes 400 ranking: 41
For the richest person in crypto, the crisis has presented opportunities. In June, its FTX exchange loaned $400 million to BlockFi, which included an option to acquire the struggling crypto lender for up to $240 million. (BlockFi was valued at $3 billion before the crisis.) In the same month, the US arm of FTX bought Canadian crypto exchange Bitvo, while another of Bankman-Fried’s companies, trading firm Alameda Research , loaned around $500 million to Voyager Digital, yet another struggling crypto. lender (which subsequently filed for bankruptcy). Regardless: A leaked investor presentation last month revealed that FTX ended 2021 with some $2 billion in cash, and familiar sources say Bankman-Fried is preparing to make more acquisitions.
Along with becoming the crypto lender of last resort, Bankman-Fried has been busy building his profile in Washington. He lobbied the Commodity Futures Trade Commission to allow FTX to directly clear derivatives trades without intermediaries. He’s also made waves as a political donor, pledging to spend between $100 million and $1 billion during the 2024 election season on candidates who support “sound governance.”
Net worth: $4.6 billion
Rank: No. 227
Bankman-Fried’s right-hand man, Gary Wang, 29, co-founded Alameda Research and FTX, where he serves as chief technology officer. Although he maintains a lower public profile than Bankman-Fried, he was nonetheless instrumental in the company’s rapid rise. Wang owns about 16% of FTX, which is based in the Bahamas (where he and Bankman-Fried now live) and about 16% of FTX’s US arm.
Wang is an MIT graduate who previously worked at Google, where he built systems to aggregate prices across millions of flights.
Net worth: $2.8 billion (from $6 billion previously)
Rank: No. 380
The net worth of the co-founder and chairman of crypto payments company Ripple has plunged, with XRP, Ripple’s native token, down around 75% since last year, and Larsen and Ripple continue to fight allegations from the Securities and Exchange Commission that Ripple’s XRP issuance was an unregistered securities offering. .
In January, the company bought back shares of Tetragon Financial Group, which had invested in Ripple’s Series C funding round in 2019, but sued Ripple for its money after the SEC allegations became public.
While Larsen has refrained from making public statements about the SEC lawsuit, he has been a vocal supporter of making Bitcoin more environmentally friendly. The 62-year-old regularly tweets and appears on podcasts to discuss the topic, which is hotly contested among Bitcoin diehards.
Net worth: $2.7 billion (from $11.5 billion)
Rank: No. 388
The crypto downturn is hitting its Coinbase hard. One of the largest US crypto exchanges, the company relies on trading to generate fee income – and trading is down. Quarterly trading volume on Coinbase was $227 billion last quarter, down from $547 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021. In June, Coinbase laid off 18% of its staff. Armstrong warned last month that the crypto winter could last between 12 and 18 months.
Still, Armstrong holds on. It hasn’t sold a single Coinbase share — which it took public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in April 2021 — even though the stock has cratered 76% since last year’s listing. Armstrong has been careful to maintain Coinbase’s goodwill with regulators over the years, but he recently lambasted U.S. Treasury sanctions against Tornado Cash, open-source software that allows Ether investors to conceal their identities. Coinbase is helping fund a lawsuit against the Treasury, and in a blog post, Armstrong said the agency had “exceeded its authority” in imposing sanctions.
These crypto tycoons are still billionaires, but have fallen from the Forbes 400 ranking this year.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
Net worth: $2.2 billion each
Last year: $4.3 billion
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin brothers who sued Mark Zuckerberg and invested their settlement money in Bitcoin, are now worth around $2.2 billion each as the value of their supposed crypto holdings – primarily Bitcoin, Ether and Filecoin – has increased. plunged.
Also bad: Gemini, the crypto exchange of the twins. Deal volume is down about 50% from the end of 2021, when the company raised $400m from VC at a valuation of $7.1bn. On June 2, the same day Gemini laid off 10% of its workforce, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission sued Gemini, alleging the company made “false or misleading statements” about its proposed Bitcoin futures product. (The company has denied any wrongdoing; Tyler describe the allegations of “nuts” while Cameron tagged “nonsense”.)
The seemingly indifferent Winklevii spent the summer picking up their cover band, Junction of Mars, on tour, stopping at small concert halls across the country. Some critics lambasted the stunt (one compared their performances to “rich guys doing bad karaoke on a cruise ship”). The twins defended their new profession: “When you play covers, you are judged by the recording,” Tyler explained to The New York Times in July. “It’s a difficult thing.”
Net worth: $2.5 billion
Last year: $3 billion
The longtime blockchain pioneer known for founding Mt. Gox (the very first Bitcoin exchange) and co-founder of Ripple sold the last of his XRP stash earlier this year, honoring the terms of a 2014 separation agreement which he entered into with Ripple after falling out with his Larsen and other early executives. McCaleb has earned over $2 billion in estimated after-tax revenue from his XRP sales.
He also holds around 1 billion Lumens, the native cryptocurrency of the Stellar blockchain project, which he founded after leaving Ripple. Late last year, McCaleb turned his attention to a new area: outer space. He says his new company, Vast, “builds artificial gravity space stations to expand humanity across the solar system.”
Net worth: $1.1 billion
Last year: $3.5 billion
Ehrsam co-founded Coinbase with Brian Armstrong in 2012. He left the company in 2017, but remains a board member and now runs crypto-focused investment firm Paradigm Capital. The 34-year-old brought in around $370 million in estimated after-tax income from the sale of Coinbase stock last year, before the price crashed. Then, in May, Ehrsam bought around $77 million worth of Coinbase stock on behalf of Paradigm, buying the dip.
Ehrsam insists that the crypto downturn is temporary. “One thing most people don’t fully grasp is that it takes years, if not decades, to go from a new infrastructure-level technology breakthrough (like cryptography) to a vibrant ecosystem of consumer apps. “, did he declare. tweeted in June.
SEE THE FULL 2022 FORBES 400 LIST
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Crypto Winter Eliminates 3 People From Forbes 400 List Of Richest Americans
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