For the crypto world, 2022 has been a tumultuous and eventful year with multiple high-profile bankruptcies, record-high scams, and frauds.
In early 2022, the Russia-Ukraine war brought the crypto community together and proved its solidarity as people around the globe used crypto to donate and provide aid to Ukraine. Then the collapse of Terra-Luna shook the community as prices tanked and the bear market solidified. Amid the shockwaves of the Terra-Luna fiasco, a slew of bankruptcies followed, starting with Three Arrows Capital (3AC), Voyager Digital, and Celsius.
Leaving the bankruptcies aside, several crypto businesses, especially lenders, struggled with liquidity in the aftermath of the 3AC collapse. At the time, FTX and its then CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) emerged as a ‘knight in shining armor’ as he extended funding to companies facing liquidity issues.
SBF continued to move among the elite political circles in Washington — being the second largest donor in US President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign — lobbying for crypto regulation. Months later, on Nov. 11, FTX declared bankruptcy, and revelations about customer funds mismanagement led to SBF’s arrest in the Bahamas and extradition to the US on Dec. 21.
With the roller coaster journey of the crypto market, prices of all major cryptocurrencies stayed way below their all-time highs in 2021. Around $2 trillion was eroded from the cryptocurrency market cap throughout the year.
As the seemingly well-functioning companies like Celsius and FTX crumbled overnight, common crypto investors collectively lost tens of billions in 2022.
According to Forbes’ estimates, 17 of crypto’s wealthiest founders, investors, and advocates collectively lost $116 billion in personal wealth since March 2022. While 15 of these crypto moguls lost more than half their fortune, 10 lost their billionaire status and 3 lost their entire fortune.
1. Changpeng Zhao
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the richest crypto personality, saw the sharpest decline in personal wealth over the last 9 months. From $65 billion in March, CZ’s net worth plummeted 93.07% to $4.5 billion in December.
2. Samuel Bankman-Fried
SBF, who was the second richest crypto mogul in March with a net worth of $24 billion, is estimated to have lost 100% of his fortune. SBF is currently under house arrest awaiting trial for multiple counts of fraud.
3. Brian Armstrong
Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, saw his net worth decline from $6 billion in March to $1.5 billion in December — a drop of 75%. In the aftermath of the FTX collapse, Armstrong touted that it is trying to follow the ‘difficult path’ of a ‘regulated, trusted approach,’ as opposed to Binance. However, with Coinbase stocks down 64% since August and over 95% from its $100 billion IPO, most of Armstrong’s wealth has been wiped out.
4. Gary Wang
Like SBF, Gary Wang, the co-founder and former chief technology officer (CTO) of FTX, also saw his entire net worth of $5.9 billion wiped off since March. Wang, along with Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research, has pled guilty to criminal charges, according to a statement by the Southern District of New York on Dec. 21. Both Wang and Ellison are cooperating in the case against SBF.
5. Chris Larsen
Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen, the fifth-richest crypto personality, lost 51% of his personal wealth. From $4.3 billion in March, Larsen’s net worth dived to $1.2 billion as of December.
6 & 7. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss
The Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron, whose net worths stood at $4 billion each in March, saw their wealth tank by 72.5% over the past three quarters. As of December, the co-founders of crypto exchange Gemini have a net worth of $1.1 billion each, as per Forbes’ estimates.
Regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), Gemini marketed itself as a safe and regulated exchange compared to off-shore unregulated counterparts. However, on Nov. 16, five days after the bankruptcy filing of FTX and Alameda Research, Gemini announced that its lending partner Genesis Global Capital was halting funds withdrawals.
Gemini promised its users ‘real returns’ via Gemini Earn by lending out tokens to Genesis Global Capital. With the halt of withdrawals, Gemini users are owed $900 million, according to a Financial Times report. While some Gemini users are trying to have faith in the reputation of the Winklevoss twins, others are mulling the launch of a class-action lawsuit, according to a Bloomberg report.
8. Barry Silbert
Barry Silbert is the CEO of the crypto conglomerate Digital Currency Group (DCG), the parent company of Genesis. Silbert’s net worth, which stood at $3.2 billion in March, has dropped to zero, as per Forbes’ estimates.
Genesis Global Capital, a key arm of DCG, owes at least $1.8 billion to creditors, including $900 million to Gemini Earn users, according to a Reuters report. Genesis had a $1.1 billion liability from a loan made to now-defunct hedge fund 3AC, which parent DCG absorbed. Additionally, DCG owes $575 million to Genesis due by May 2023, and $350 million to investment firm Elridge in case Genesis collapses, as per a Financial Times report.
DCG has around 200 investments in crypto firms and tokens, including crypto news portal CoinDesk, bitcoin mining firm Foundry, and Grayscale Investments. According to Forbes estimates, DCG’s outstanding liabilities outweigh the fair market value of its assets. Therefore, Forbes’ estimates place the value of Silbert’s 40% stake in DCG at zero. It is to be noted, however, that Forbes could not determine personal investments of Silbert for the calculation.
9. Jed McCaleb
Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb retained most of his personal wealth among the 17 listed crypto moguls. This is because McCaleb sold almost all his XRP holdings, worth around $2.5 billion, between December 2020 and July 2022, in accordance with his separation agreement with Ripple. This allowed McCaleb to exit the market before the crypto winter intensified. According to Forbes estimates, McCaleb’s net worth of $2.5 billion in March stood at $2.4 billion in December.
10 & 11. Nikil Viswanathan and Joseph Lau
Co-founders of Web 3.0 development platform Nikil Viswanathan and Joseph Lau have both lost their billionaire status since March. Forbes estimates have placed the current value of Viswanathan and Lau’s personal wealth at $600 million each, down from $2.4 billion each back in March.
Forbes’ estimates of Viswanathan and Lau’s net worth are based on the markdowns of their stakes in Alchemy, which was valued at $10.2 billion during a fundraising round in February 2022.
12 & 13. Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah
Co-founders of leading non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea, Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah, have also departed from the billionaire’s club. As NFT trading volumes collapsed, Finzer and Atallahh’s net worths reduced by 72.72% from $2.4 billion to $600 million each.
14. Fred Ehrsam
Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam’s crypto venture firm Paradigm had invested $278 million in FTX equity. Paradigm co-founder Matt Huang said that the firm ‘regrets’ investing in a founder and company that dealt ‘enormous damage to the ecosystem.’
Huang added that Paradigm’s investment in FTX constituted a ‘small part’ of its total assets. He also clarified that Paradigm was not exposed to the FTX token FTT and did not have any assets on FTX.
Ehrsam has been been quiet regarding the FTX investment. However, with Coinbase’s stock price plumetting, Ehrsam’s personal wealth has dwindled from $2.1 billion to $800 million.
15. Michael Saylor
Executive chairman and co-founder of MicroStrategy, Michael Saylor, who is Bitcoin (BTC) whale, has lost his fortune owing to the declining price of BTC. At the time of writing, Bitcoin price is down by more than 75% from its all-time high in November 2021. Saylor’s net worth has contracted from $1.6 billion in March to $640 million in December.
16. Matthew Roszak
Leading blockchain investor and advocate Matthew Roszak has lost 28.57% of his personal wealth. The net worth of the co-founder of Web 3.0 infrastructure firm Bloq has dropped from $1.4 billion to $1 billion. Roszak’s investments include decentralized asset management platform Syndicate and Qtum blockchain.
17. Tim Draper
Silicon valley venture capitalist Timothy Draper, a Bitcoin whale with over 29,000 BTC, has also dropped off the billionaire list. Draper’s net worth has tanked by 54.16% from $1.2 billion to $550 million.