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260821 Richest Cryptocurrency Billionaires

Top 7 Cryptocurrency Billionaires in 2021: Here's How They Gained Their Wealth

profileJoel Koh


At the time of writing, the global cryptocurrency market now is worth about US$2 trillion (S$2.7 trillion), growing about 10X from when it was worth S$278.5 billion just two-plus years ago.

But let’s travel back in time a bit more.

This stratospheric rise of cryptocurrencies as a whole started back in 2009.

Although the journey was and is still pretty rocky due to the speculative nature of cryptocurrencies and stomach-churning volatility, billions of dollars were up for grabs for almost anyone on the way.

Thus, it makes sense that cryptocurrency has given birth to a diverse group of ultra-high net worth individuals.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20,

Most people did not understand or get into cryptocurrency back when it just started.

Indeed it was and still is, a very risky asset class to invest in.

But, those on this list are the early adopters who bought in and also predicted its economic opportunity.

Here is a list of the seven richest cryptocurrency billionaires in 2021 and the stories of how they built their wealth.

TL;DR: 7 Richest Cryptocurrency Billionaires

Disclaimer: The information provided by Seedly serves as an educational piece and is not intended to be personalised investment advice. ‚ÄčReaders should always do their own due diligence and consider their financial goals before investing in any investment product. The writer may have a vested interest in the investments products mentioned.¬†

1. Satoshi Nakamoto (S$72.7 Billion): Annonymous Bitcoin Founder

First up we have Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin.

For the uninitiated, Satoshi Nakamoto is actually just a pseudonym used by the individual or group that created the cryptocurrency in 2009.

Source: André François McKenzie | Unsplash

As the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi is said to have mined a huge stash of bitcoins. which is the source of Satoshi’s considerable wealth/net worth.

As Satoshi remains anonymous to this day, we cannot determine with 100 per cent certainty how many bitcoins Satoshi actually owns.

But we can refer to the work of experts like prominent computer security and cryptocurrency researcher Sergio Demi√°n Lerner.

Lerner published two reports: The Well Deserved Fortune of Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin creator, Visionary and Genius in 2013 and a sequel titled The Return of the Deniers and the Revenge of Patoshi in 2019.

For the first piece published in 2013, Lerner examined the first Bitcoin blocks mined between 1 January 2009 – 25 January 2010 (blocks 1 – 36,288) and discovered that one individual entity mined the majority of blocks within this time period and was rewarded with a little over 1 million bitcoins.

For the second piece published in April 2019, Lerner followed up on the research he did previously and pinpointed that this individual entity Patoshi was responsible for mining 22,000 blocks and was rewarded with 1.1 million bitcoins.

Based on this estimation and research, we would assume that Satoshi owns 1.1 million bitcoins.

At the time of writing, one bitcoin is worth S$64,638 (data from Morningstar)

This means that Satoshi is now worth S$72.7 billion almost certainly making Satoshi the richest Cryptocurrency billionaire. 

Even if you halve this amount, Satoshi is still richer than all of the billionaires on this list.

2. Sam Bankman-Fried (S$20.3 Billion): CEO of Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange FTX

Next up we have Sam Bankman-Fried the 29-year-old founder of cryptocurrency derivatives exchange FTX.

Friedman graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2014 with a physics degree. After graduation, he started his career as a Wall Street exchange-traded fund (ETF) trader at Jane Street Capital.

Subsequently, he founded Alameda Research, a quantitative cryptocurrency trading firm in October 2017 and cryptocurrency derivatives exchange FTX in April 2019.

Source: Everipedia

Thus, his wealth mainly stems from his ownership of Financial Investment Tokens (FIT) and shares of FTX which was recently valued to be worth US$18 billion (S$24.3 billion) in a 22 July 2021 series B fundraising round.

In addition, he is a founder of Alameda Research, which manages a little over US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) worth of digital assets.

In a 29 July 2021 feature, Fortune estimates that Friedman is worth around US$15 billion (S$20.3 billion).

Despite his wealth, the 29-year old millennial who is based in Hong Kong seems rather unassuming.

An interview with the Nikkei Asia Review reveals that like many millennials, Friedman

swears by his vegan diet, shares an apartment with roommates, wears T-shirts and shorts to work, and makes sure every room in his office in Hong Kong’s central business district has beanbag chairs to sleep on.

3. Brian Armstrong (S$14.3 Billion): CEO of Cryptocurrency Exchange Coinbase

Next up we have Brian Armstrong the 38-year-old founder and CEO of Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ: COIN). The exchange has a global presence and is also the most popular cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S.

As of 26 August 2021, Forbes estimates that Armstrong is worth US$10.6 billion (S$14.3 billion).

Source: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch | Wikimedia Commons

Armstrong’s wealth is largely derived from his 19 per cent stake of Coinbase, a company he started back in 2012 with former forex trader Fred Ehrsam.

The company went public via a direct listing on 14 April 2021 (via my colleague Sudhan’s analysis of Coinbase):

For the first quarter of 2021 (Q1 2021), Coinbase reported strong performance:

For the year ended 31 December 2020, Coinbase’s total revenue surged 139% year-on-year to US$1.3 billion while its net profit was US$322 million, compared to a net loss of US$30 million in the previous year.

For Coinbase’s first quarter ended 31 March 2021, total revenue ballooned close to 10x to US$1.8 billion, up from US$190.6 million exactly a year ago. With that, net income grew 2,313% year-on-year to US$771.5 million.

The company also reported that it has a user base of 56 million verified users and is currently has a market cap of US$67.2 billion (S$90.3 billion).

4. Fred Ehrsam: (S$4.5 Billion): Co-Founder of Cryptocurrency Investment Firm Paradigm and Co-Founder of Coinbase

Speaking of Coinbase, the next billionaire on this list is Fred Ehrsam who is worth US$3.3 billion (S$4.5 billion) according to Forbes.

Source: Robyn Selman | Wikimedia Commons

The 33-year-old Duke graduate started his career as a Goldman Sachs forex trader.

But after working for Goldman for about two years he quit to start Coinbase with Brian Armstrong in 2012.

In 2017, Ehrsam left Coinbase. But, he still holds on to a 6 per cent stake in Coinbase and is still on the company’s board of directors.

After leaving Coinbase, he went on to found Paradigm, a cryptocurrency investment firm that has about US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) worth of assets.

5/6. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (S$4.1 Billion) Each: Founders of Cryptocurrency Exchange Gemini

If you have watched the 2010 Hollywood biographical movie The Social Network, you might be familiar with identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.

Source: Depositphotos.com

The twins are most know for claiming that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) while the three of them were studying at Harvard.

They then went on to sue Zuckerberg in 2008 and were awarded a US$65 million (S$97.9 million) legal settlement.

Part of the money from the settlement was used to buy bitcoins, with Forbes estimating that they bought and are now are holding on to about 70,000 bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

In addition, they started cryptocurrency exchange Gemini back in 2014.

Today, Gemini is currently the 14 biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world (according to CoinMarketCap) and processes about US$200 million (S$270.58 million) worth of trades daily.

Forbes estimates that each twin is worth US$3.0 billion (S$4.1 billion) each.

7. Michael Saylor (S$3.4 Billion): CEO of MicroStrategy

Last but not least we have Michael Saylor, the 56-year-old co-founder and CEO of MicroStrategy who is worth US$2.5 billion (S$3.4 billion) according to Forbes.

Source: Micael Saylor | Personal Website

His wealth is largely derived from his stake in MicroStrategy a business intelligence, mobile software and cloud-based services provider and his bullishness about Bitcoin.

Back in October 2020, he disclosed that he was holding on to 17,732 bitcoins which he bought at an average cost of US$9,882 per BTC.

Source: Michael Saylor | Twitter

At current prices, his BTC holdings are worth about S$1.12 billion.

In addition, it could be said that he influenced MicroStrategy’s strategy of adding bitcoins to its balance sheet using cash and leverage

According to Markets Insider, MicroStrategy is now holding on to about 108,992 bitcoins that were bought at an average cost of US$26,769 per BTC.

At current prices, MicroStrategy owns about S$7.17 billion worth of Bitcoin.

Can’t Get Enough of Cryptocurrencies?

Fret not!

We have partnered with SingSaver and American Express to launch this super exclusive Bitcoin campaign for the first time ever in Singapore.

You will receive up to S$365 worth of Bitcoin when you successfully apply for a credit card. This offer is ONLY available on Seedly & SingSaver. You will not find it anywhere else.

These rewards will be given out from now until 7 November 2021 OR until S$1 million worth of Bitcoin has been claimed, whichever is earlier.

Also, the first 2,000 eligible applicants will receive an additional S$100 worth of Bitcoin so get to it!

If you were wondering, these rewards will also be given out to your Gemini account as they are our exclusive cryptocurrency wallet partner for this campaign.

How to Apply:

  1. Apply for your favourite credit card.
  2. Receive up to S$265 (S$265 for new customers and S$50 for existing customers) worth of Bitcoin after you fulfil the eligibility requirements.)
  3. Spend S$500 on the card within the first 30 days of card approval.
  4. Be one of the first 2,000 eligible applicants to receive up to an additional S$100 worth of Bitcoin.

Eligible Cards: American Express in Singapore

Here are the cards you can apply for with this campaign:

More details about the cards can be found on the landing page. And of course, terms and conditions apply.

Disclaimer: Seedly and Singsaver will never ask you for your crypto wallet address nor instruct you to transfer any crypto to us throughout any of the campaigns.

About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. I hope to help people make better financial decisions and not let money control them.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

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