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.