Chapter 3. How to Build a Successful Blockchain

Changpeng Zhao became a blockchain billionaire in less than a year.

CZ, as he is known, was born in China, where both his parents were educators. His father, however, was a strong-minded intellectual who was exiled from the country for his “pro-bourgeois” ideas, and the family moved to Canada, like the Buterins.1

After studying computer science at McGill University in Montreal, CZ quickly developed a reputation for building high-speed financial trading systems for companies like Bloomberg and the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Then, he was bitten by the bitcoin bug.

When he was introduced to blockchain in his late 20s, he quickly saw the potential of the new Internet of Value and left his day job to join several early projects. He was one of the first employees of digital wallet provider Blockchain.info, followed by a stint at OKCoin, a platform for trading between traditional and digital currencies.

CZ saw two problems with the emerging world of digital trading:

  • The first problem was technical. When traders wanted to sell bitcoin and buy Ethereum, for example, the technology wasn’t ready for prime time. The early days of blockchain, like the early days of the internet, were plagued by frequent site outages, confusing user interfaces, and a lack of scalability.

  • The second problem was legal. The moment you accepted fiat currency, you were considered a money transmitter, which required expensive licenses and lawyers. Also, these new digital ...

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