Of course, that’s perhaps to be expected when you’re known to the world over by just two letters, but “CZ” has arguably achieved something greater in 2018 — a celebrity status that’s equaled by his clout as an entrepreneur.
On a sweltering December day in Singapore, Zhao is quick to show why — he has a surprise that’s not so much up his sleeve as under it. “I’m gonna show this to the crowd later,” he says, grin on his face, ear-to-ear.
By the time he takes the stage, the attendees at Forbes Asia Forum in Singapore have shifted from a scattering of somewhat bored businesspeople, some heads down, headphones in, into an excited mass that can almost be felt moving forward.
It’s a testament to Zhao’s crossover appeal — many in the audience are members of a financial establishment that are (at least publicly) still somewhat skeptical, if not derisive of the technology. Onstage, however, those divides melt away as Zhao raises his arm to unveil his first tattoo — a newly minted logo of his exchange Binance.
The move goes to show the root of CZ’s appeal; if he sometimes seems to skirt an outlaw status, what makes him such an effective ambassador for the crypto movement is that he exudes its core beliefs so effortlessly.
Come on in, his smile says, the future is waiting.
But if Zhao has come to embody the current state of cryptocurrency – its runaway growth and newfound cultural appeal – he also matches the industry with an outsized ambition.