Exclusive Interview With the №1 Person in Crypto


Hello, world. We are here to reveal the most important and
influencing person on Cointelegraph first ever Top 100 list. He grew up in a small village without electricity
or running water. He’s 99.99999% sure, we’re all living in a
simulation. And his favorite color is black. And the number one spot goes to… I’m so excited! CZ from Binance! Really? Thank you so much. I’m really honored. I spoiled the surprise maybe. Sorry about that. Anyway, my first question is, what is that
you are particularly personally proud of having done in the previous year, 2019? First of all, thank you for ranking me as
the number one. I’m really, really honored and I’m really
flattered. I think I got chosen probably because what
Binance did and the Binance team did. So I think the thing that I’m most proud of
is really just leading the team. And while it’s bringing the team together
and just sort of constructing that team, keeping the team together, setting a very rough general
direction and then just making sure everyone’s going in the same direction in terms of the
real execution work. I really didn’t do that much, but 2019 Binance
did a lot. Binance as a platform from the IEO in January
to Binance Chain in February. Binance DEX in April, margin in May-June-ish. And what else? July was something. September with futures. So there’s a lot of stuff that Binance did,
in the bottom, the bear market that sort of pushed things along. So I think people in the crypto space generally
really appreciate that. The fact that we’re always pushing the industry
forward. So at least we do our part to do that. There are many other players who do that as
well. So we want to work together to push this industry
forward. So other than to sort of just putting together
a really good team and then leading them forward, I personally didn’t really do that much, but
the team did a lot of really hard work. Okay. So what are the plans for 2020? Projects to launch? Things to try? Countries to visit, books to read? Sure, sure. Yeah, absolutely. 2019, to be honest, we’ve been really, really
focused internally to getting the products out. So there were many, many product launches. For 2020, there’s going to be a lot of stuff. There is still continue to be a lot of product
building and launches. So the open platform initiative is quite key. So we’re basically providing more and more
platforms for our other business partners to be able to access to crypto for the retail. So it’s more, before we were more like a BTC
model, while in 2020, we’re moving towards a B2BTC model where we are working with other
partners to enable consumers to come into crypto. So we have a number of initiatives in that
area. We continue to pushing futures, which is a
very low cost way of trading. It is somewhat high risk in terms of the liquidations. It requires a different mentality of trading. So you don’t want to put all your funds in
one order. So you want to split them up a little bit. With futures it is really a much cheaper way
to trade both in terms of trading fees as well as capital requirements to trade. So we’re pushing futures very aggressively
and we’re also doing something that other people are not doing with futures traditionally. We’re enabling futures for many of the altcoins. So this is typically very difficult to do,
but our system has been relatively stable and we have some advances in terms of how
to handle liquidity. So we’re doing that now. We have a very large focus on global fiat
expansion, penetrating and covering global markets. So we want to turn out a fiat access in 180
different countries. And I believe a large part of this will have
to rely on our partners and hopefully Binance cloud can help with that as well. So those are sort of a very high level plans. There’s a lot more details to it. But I can ramble on for a long time. So I don’t want to take too much time. What about personal plans for this year? Personal plans. I don’t really have a lot. So my biggest goal is basically within the
next couple of years, hopefully I can get myself into even more unneeded situations. So nothing depends on me. So then after that, I can probably relax,
travel the world, etc. I’m doing a lot more traveling in 2020. I do plan to travel more now. I fixed my back. But right now the travel is more airport to
hotel, back to airport, kind of gone. So I don’t really do a lot of sightseeing. I don’t do that much sightseeing right now. So but I think for me, though, I really enjoy
what I’m doing right now. So I don’t feel it’s really work or is really
pressure, like I’m pressured to do it. I’m really tired doing it. I feel I’m really lucky to have the chance
to be doing what we’re doing, which is to increase access to crypto, increase the freedom
of money for people around the world, so that’s something I’m really, really energetic about
doing. I just feel really lucky to be in a position
to be able to do that. So for me, for this year, I’ll travel around
the world to where it’s required to push more adoption on crypto. Ok, so you’re famously a workaholic. You’re also famously minimalistic. No big houses, no yachts. Not even a suit. Well, now that you can practically for yourself,
whatever you want, I wonder when was the last time you did something for the first time? I actually can’t remember that much, to be
honest. So my life’s pretty simple. I haven’t done anything crazy in the last
couple years. How did you celebrate the New Year? On New Year I stayed home. I didn’t go out to celebrate. Actually, I slept before New Year. I slept like before 00:00. That’s a very rare time for me. It’s actually quite rare for me to sleep before
00:00, before midnight. But actually on that day, I got tired and
just, you know, it’s just another day. I recently passed my birthday. I did not celebrate it either. So I had a normal dinner with people I have
dinner with all the time. I’m non-materialistic because it’s kind of
hard to carry anything that’s physical, anything that’s like tied down. It’s kind of hard to carry a non-mobile. I like to keep mobile. I like to be able to sort of living in different
city every month if I want to. So that aspect of it really appeals to me. And with the shared economy is so much easier
now. Right. So you don’t need a car. You have Uber everywhere. You have airBnBs, you have like servers apartments. So you don’t need that. I don’t need to buy a house. And I don’t like boats. So if I want to take a boat ride I’ll rent
it, it’ll be fine. So I don’t feel the need to own a lot of stuff
to have a really complicated life. Just keep everything simple. Great, really inspiring. Okay, but we all know that you took a big
risk when you sold your house that you had in 2014, if I’m not mistaken, just to go all
in on Bitcoin, since you are also world known poker player, I bet you knew you had a good
hand, did you? Still, anyway, that’s really kind of nuts. So what made you decide to take such a big
risk? Sure. So for me, it was actually quite easy. Yes, I did push all in on crypto in 2014. And this is after Bitcoin went up to a $1,000
in the end of 2013. And it was a kind of on the way down. It had been going back and forth. So but for me at that time, I started learning
about Bitcoin in 2013 and I read the white paper. I went to a few different conferences. The one that was really, really standing out
is the December conference in Berlin, sorry, it was the December conference in Las Vegas
in the U.S. So I went there, it was a very small conference,
maybe about 200 people total. But everyone in the crypto space today were
there like Charlie Lee was there, Matt Roszak was there, Vitalik was there. So a bunch of people were all there. And it’s the same crew. It’s the same sort of people. The group of people was really, really nice. And I remember one guy teaching me about Ripple. Ripple was pretty complicated to use to set
up gateways, to trust them, stuff like that. And the guy was teaching me about how to set
it up. And in the process, he transferred some Ripple
to me. And when I was done, I was like, okay, now
I understand how to use it. Let me transfer these coins back to you. He said, well, no, you can keep it and you
can use it to teach the next guy. I looked at it, I was like, well, the coin
at the time was about $500, U.S. dollars. So it’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s
also not a small amount of money. So I thought that community was really, really
nice. So at that time, I had a really high confidence
in Bitcoin succeeding, in cryptocurrency succeeding. So I must do the technology, I must do the
financial aspect of it. And you already had a really nice community,
the community behind it. And also for me personally, the situation
was: I sold my house. Not only did I sell my house, I also quit
my job. So no house, no job. But I was only jobless for two weeks. So I was looking, I quit my job before getting
a new job. But I was looking for jobs in the cryptocurrency
space. I bumped into blockchain.info very quickly
and landed a job there in two weeks. So for me it was like, okay, I can sell my
house. I can live without it, I can afford to pay
rent and I can afford to take care of myself and whoever else, my family that I need to
take care of just by my salary. And even if the cryptocurrency goes to hell,
I can always go back to the banking industry and get a job there. I’ll be fine. So it’s not like I took a job where my living
standard would be severely impacted. I was, again, I was not living luxuriously,
but I had a decent lifestyle. So it wasn’t like, that’s not luxurious, but
I had decent food, decent place to stay, etc. So for me, the risk was totally tolerable. I know 100% that even if crypto fails, I can
get a job in a bank. It’s not a big issue. So for different people that risk appetite
and that risk situation is different. So I would not recommend people who are struggling
to pay off mortgages on their house and who needs a guaranteed income from their investments
to pay off their loan, to sell their house and to go in crypto, because crypto is highly
volatile for me. So when I went in, I sold my house while Bitcoin
was $600 roughly, within about three months, Bitcoin dropped about to $200. So I lost two thirds of the house, but my
lifestyle didn’t get totally impacted. Psychologically, that’s the impact. But my lifestyle didn’t change that much. So it stayed at $200 for two years. So two years later, it finally went up, but
my lifestyle was still OK. So I was still doing other things and things
were okay. So basically, my advice to somebody else is
that you’ve got to look at your own situation. If you can tolerate that kind of risk, you
can handle that kind of risk, then it’s okay. If not, then don’t push all in like that. Were you always able to handle risks? I mean, you seem such a calm person. I don’t know. Do you meditate or was it some learning process
for you or you are born like this? So I’m always a very calm person. So in my working life. So in Binance I’ve never shouted, I’ve never
shouted. I’ve never yelled at anybody. I’ve never sort of became really sort of agitated. There were times where there were very high
stress and so like, I can tell you, Binance when you running a change globally. There’s a lot of stressful situations with
different regulations, with security, hacking, all of the situations that were very, very
high stress situations. I am usually very, very calm. I also have a low heart rate. so my resting heart rate is like 50 something. And in my working career, I never really yelled
and screamed at other people either. So I have a calm demeanor. I don’t know why. Just sort of just the personality, I guess. I don’t meditate that much. I tried it. I find meditation a little bit boring, to
be honest. I don’t need it. I’m already very calm. So I’m also usually very optimistic as well. So I’ve tried many different start ups and
a lot of them have failed. But even in those situations, even at the
times where we have to dissolve a company. I was incurring debt and I had to pay back
and I did eventually, at that time I remained relatively calm. So there’s a couple of things that help me
mentality wise. There’s one phrase where somebody told me
they had a real impact on me in my early years. So when I was younger, somebody said: “Do
you know what happens when you’re at the bottom, of your valley?”. So sort of if you look at life and you’re
at the bottom of the valley, originally, let’s say if you walked to the bottom of a valley,
what do you do? And the answer is pretty simple. You just keep walking, as long as you keep
walking. Then you eventually get out of the valley. So that was a very, very useful to me. So whenever I feel like a lot of stress, I
don’t know why. I just keep remembering that story. So that helps a lot. There’s many other little things I do to help
myself. But, yeah. So there’s a lot of different stuff. Tips from CZ, how to stay calm in the crypto
world. Well, great motto that you shared. Thank you. Are you still a coder within your heart? How much time do you spend programming nowadays? So for the last year and a half or so, I’ve
not done any coding. So, you know, so I didn’t not write any code
that was using Binance. All of the Binance code base was written by
somebody else. So when Binance started, I was kind of already
leaving the coding kind of stage. Whereas even in the early years of Binance
like a year and a half ago, I still wrote some scripts to do some random stuff for myself. Not so much for Binance, but in the last year
and a half or so, I hadn’t really, didn’t really have a lot of chance to do coding at
all, which is something I really want to go back to and try. But with coding, you got to have a chunk of
time that you’ve got to sit down and look at a stale computer screen uninterrupted. Unfortunately, right now, my time’s really,
really segmented. So like there’s a lot of interrupts. I tell other people that now I have a memory
of a goldfish like I can’t remember anything, like longer than seven seconds. So everything is like in segments, but it
is what it is. It’s kind of what the job is right now and
it’s okay. I’m fine with it. So hopefully in a couple years when things
settle down, I can go back to learn some new programming languages and learn to code. But do you think that in the modern crypto
industry in order to found a startup, it’s better to have a programming background or
an MBA? I think both are okay, to be honest, I think
we have seen successful cases in both cases. Having a technology background really helps. I would say you typically want to have both,
to be honest. So with MBA, who doesn’t have a technical
background. But if we could learn a simple programming
language, just some basic stuff and write a very simple program so that they understand
a little bit and read a little bit about the high levels of technology, how to deploy servers
and how to run a cloud, just sort of very high level stuff. When you start a business, you are forced
to deal with everything. You’ve got to deal with technology. You gotta deal with business. You’ve got to deal with business models, BD
business development, deal negotiations. You got to deal with marketing. You’ve got to deal with service, customer
service or product sell service. You got to deal with complies legal, accounting,
finance, H.R. So you have to deal with a lot of these things. I will say, today, I’m definitely not an expert
in any of those areas. But as an entrepreneur or like a CEO or a
leader of our organization, you have to know a little bit in each place. So I definitely come from a stronger tech
background, but I’ve been doing startups for, like, I don’t know, 10-15 years before I started
Binance. So I do have a little bit of the business
acumen sort of through experience and then, but the other stuff, like all the H.R. and
finance stuff, they’re important as well. So I’m no super strong in any of those areas. So I rely very heavily on our back office
staff for those areas. So I think basically you need a little bit
of everything when you want to run a startup. Two years ago, you told us that you tried
very hard not to be number one because it entails a lot of problems, stress as you said
also today, especially with regulators. So do you still agree that it’s difficult? Is it still difficult for you to be this number
one or you just gave up and decided: “It’s okay”? Actually, two years ago, it was mainly the
regulatory uncertainty and also not enough… Crypto is only the beginning. Crypto is not really widespread. So crypto still only reaches a very small
percentage of users. So I think the situation on the regulatory
front has changed a lot. I think today many governments are pro-blockchain
and pro-cryptocurrency. They are much clearer regulations on how to
run a cryptocurrency exchange and what to do and what not to do, etc. There’s still a lot of room to improve and
there’s just a lot of uncertainty. But today is much, much better than two years
ago. So I think today it’s OK to sort of push forward,
gain market share, and you will not be the only one of the top 10 or the regulators go
to you. But today is actually much harder to do that
because there are a lot of exchanges all over the world and you have to compete with literally
thousands to be conservative, even probably more exchanges all around the world. So, I think the risk of being the biggest
exchange is much, much smaller now. But at the same time, it’s much harder now
to beat a really big exchange or the other exchanges that are competing very fiercely. So I think that’s changed. But we’re still at the early stages. We want to see more exchanges because right
now all over the world, if you can see more exchanges, we can see more people come into
crypto. And most of the local exchanges will not be
able to provide the full suite of products that Binance provides. If you look at futures, margin, staking, lending,
all of them, a lot of those products are very hard to do for smaller exchanges where they
mostly focus on fiat or crypto, mostly the local fiat to Bitcoin. And if they can do that, well, they make the
cake for us bigger as well. So we encourage other exchanges to launch
and to run their businesses. So that’s kind of the situation today. Okay, thank you very much. You are definitely one of the most famous
crypto people in the world. So my question is, do you like being a public
person? What is the most exciting thing about this
and what is the biggest challenge for you? So to be honest, if I had a choice, I’d probably
choose to be, personally, I would choose to be like not famous, but I think for the way
we started our business, we did ICO. So we had to have a public face. We were raising money from like public, right? So we raised money from like 20,000 people. So we need a public face and for Binance to
continue to grow having a face does help. I was actually hoping there would be a better
face, to be honest, I don’t think I’m a very good public speaker. I also don’t think I’m a very… There are much better looking people, much
more polished people. But unfortunately for Binance, it’s me. Well, that is not true, you are a great speaker. Public speaker. But I think because we do hold custody of
the funds. So Binance.com is a custody exchange. We hold custody of people’s crypto and having
a face is really helpful for establishing trust, that just human psychology. I know we’re an industry that technically
we don’t need trust, but there’s still a lot of trust that’s needed in a lot of different
places. And also, almost every other Binance person
doesn’t like to be too public. They all like to be like really they all really
hands down working on delivering building products. So I’m kind of forced to be the public face. So I’ll do what I can. Okay. If you could clone yourself or make a digital
copy of yourself and like make this other you do everything that you do now and be free
to do whatever you want, what will it be? Oh, I would love to. Yeah, well, I would love to make a clone to
do all the work. I think I’ll make a lot of clones to do a
lot of work. And then we can do like 10 different interviews
at the same time. I should clone myself as well then. Yeah. But it’s not possible right now. But also if I really freed myself up, I think
most likely I am quite interested in two other aspects. Number one is biology actually, biotech. I think as humans, as our species. So one thing I’m doing right now is increasing
the freedom of money, which I think will help our species to advance significantly. I’m doing a little bit to contribute in that
whole thing, but I think as a whole you can increase the freedom of money. Then our species will advance. When our species advance on that front, then
we’ll have more money, more funding power to do much more research, like biotech, like
space exploration, like AI, a bunch of other things. I think Elon Musk doing this space exploration
thing, I’m actually less interested in that. I’m more interested in biotech and potentially
AI. I think that in both of those areas, there
could potentially be a lot of more research and more improvements to be made. I think I would want to do it. There’s a lot of people doing AI already. So I think I may want to if I nothing else
to do, I may want to do like looking to biotech as sort of the next thing to look at, learn
about potentially invest in a few different startups or research projects, etc, that could
potentially help us to understand ourselves better and cure some of the diseases better,
etc. So when coronavirus going on right now, we
don’t have a vaccine for it. I’m sure the vaccine will come in due time. Maybe we can help fund it to speed it up and
we can do more genetic biology type of projects to understand ourselves better. So I’m kind of interested in those areas too. Speaking about cloning, it made me think that
I think I’ve heard that you like the simulation theory. Is it true? Yes, yes. So I believe it 100%, we’re living a simulation. Well, basically 99,99999% we’re living a simulation. So mathematically it’s basically 100%. And what does it mean, like, for you as a
person who creates a whole empire within an industry. What does that mean that we are living in
a simulation? Sure, sure. So let me share this a little bit. So the reason I believe in simulation, I believe
we are in a simulation is that the world we’re having, we have, I don’t know, a couple of
hundred billion years of history. And so that’s the time spent that I think
our universe kind of exists. And but if I look at my life when I was born,
there was no running water. There’s no electricity. I was born in a little village. And then when I was a kid. So when I was a kid, I was pumping like water
out of the well. So later on we have running water, electricity,
we have the computers, cell phones, AI, we now have Alexa, all this advanced stuff. But that just happened in this short history
over the last 40 years. And if I think about the next 40 years, would
it be possible for me to say, hey, I want to lie down there and I want to simulate my
life again? I think we probably won’t be able to do that. And there are other simulations that’s going
on as well. If you look at Nintendo’s Super Mario, we
can simulate the guy moving forward and moving backwards. The tricky part is I don’t know what kind
of simulation we in, are we being simulated by a higher being a different dimension or
are we just sleeping there, dreaming, simulated by ourselves or our own kind? But either way, both of those simulations
are possible, guaranteed within 100 years from now. And if you look at like, say, 100 years, let’s
say 500 years, right. So in 500 years, that’s guaranteed to be possible
with the speed that technology is advancing right now. And if within 500 years we can realize that,
what are the chances? This is the first 500 years. Within like a couple hundred billion years. Right. So probably 1 in a billion, if you do 1 in
a billion, then mathematically it’s 99.99999% that we’re in a simulation. And mathematically especially 100% we’re in
simulation. But whether we are in a simulation or not,
it doesn’t matter too much, to be honest. It does have some impact on how you think
about life. Just because we’re in a simulation doesn’t
mean life is not important. It doesn’t mean that if I die, I’ll wake up
and nothing matters. Maybe we’re in that kind of simulation, but
we don’t know. At least I don’t know. So maybe we die, we like Super Mario. Super Mario dies. He doesn’t jump out and talk to me. The next respawn may or may not be him. We don’t know. So just because we’re in a simulation doesn’t
mean it doesn’t matter. You still matter very much so we still want
to live a good life, to live a meaningful life, make our contributions and do what we’re
supposed to do. What we’re supposed to do as a human, at least
in this simulation that I mean, I believe that human species are supposed to help others. Well, almost any animal species are designed
to help other animals of the same species. So we’re designed to help other people. So we were designed to help ourselves and
help others. And what about climate and nature? Does it mean that actually climate change
doesn’t exist within the simulation theory? It probably means that it does exist. So the tricky part is we don’t know what kind
of stimulation we’re in. So we could be in a simulation only partially. Some things are partially simulated as some
things are not simulated. And even if we’re in a full simulation where
everything simulated, the climate problem is still a problem that was thrown to us as
a challenge that we need to resolve. Well, we need to help solve. So even if it’s a full simulation, everything
in the simulation still matters. There’s a coronavirus that matters. There’s a flooding in places. The climate changes. All of those things are challenges that thrown
our way. And we should try our best to help where we
can. It doesn’t mean that we’re able to solve every
problem, even if you’re in a game, you don’t solve every puzzle. But I think, though, the current simulation
we’re in, we should do our best with the ability that we can. And for me, doesn’t mean I will solve every
problem. I’ll just focus on a few problems where I
can make the most impact. So that’s high beliefs. That’s why I do believe in simulation theory
very strongly. There’s another aspect of the simulation theory
that has an impact on the way you view this world and life, especially with the early
topic you talked about: how do you deal with difficult situations, stressful situations,
etc? Sometimes you say, well, you know, it’s just
a simulation. It’s just a game. You just gotta keep doing what you’re supposed
to do. And there are certain parts of luck. There are some part of randomness and there
some part of maybe designing the simulation, though, that will set you back. So all of those things are present. But your role or at least my role in here
is just to do the best I can. So I just gotta keep one foot in front of
the other and keep marching forward. So that simulation theory takes a much lighter
view. Oh, you know, I’m not the center of the universe,
but I’m here to do what I’m supposed to do. And let’s just do what I’m supposed to do. So it makes life a lot easier, actually. That’s fascinating. Thank you so much. Okay, last five minutes, I wanted to dedicate
to some lightning questions. Sure. Not in terms of Lightning network, but in
terms of flash questions. Sea or mountains? I’d probably choose mountains, if you ask
randomly like that. but I do like oceans sports as well, I do
like a lot of ocean sports. Okay, beer or wine? A beer. St. Valentines or a usual day? A usual working day, yeah. I didn’t doubt about that. McDonald’s or Burger King? Burger King, because at least some of them
accept Bitcoin and Binance coin. Great, okay. Black or yellow? Black. Okay, because we share the same colors within
our logos, you know? Yes, actually, I have a Cointelegraph hoodie. And the color scheme is the same. Yeah, and I have a rucksack that you gifted
us that I adore using actually during my trips. That’s the best rucksack ever. Okay, snowboard or work? I think now is mostly work. I really enjoy snowboarding, but you can’t
snowboard all the time. You can do like couple days a year. You know, it’s good enough. Ok, the last question, simulation or reality? It’s definitely simulation. We are in a simulation. There is no reality. Thank you so much. There is no reality, but there is CZ, the
winner of Top 100 of Cointelegraph. And I’m very happy to have passed this hour
with you. Thank you so much. That was a great pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. Cheers, thank you. Thank you, everyone, this was CZ. And check the full article on Cointelegraph.com. And don’t forget to like, subscribe and hodl.

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