|Power Score: 41.33||Momentum Score: 62.35 (5)||HQ: None||CEO: Chanpeng Zhao (US: Brian Shroder)|
Valuation: $4.5 billion
Amt. Raised: $200 million
Lobbying Spend: No
Industry Orgs: Blockchain Association
Headcount: 5,927 (+70% YoY)
Engineering Headcount: 255 (+114% YoY)
Big Tech Experience: 1.0%
Open Roles: 2,023
R&D Spending: n/a
Patents Applied For: 0
Patents Owned: 0
Acquisitions: Swipe (June 2020)
Binance seems to understand that it’s often better to ask for forgiveness than permission. In the company’s five-year history,
countries have blocked Binance from doing business with a trigger finger that’s as fast as Marc Andreessen’s. For a while, the company wore its regulatory red flags as badges of honor, finding increasingly creative ways to evade regulators and becoming the world’s biggest crypto exchange in the process, with volumes that are larger than its four closest competitors combined, which are OKX, KuCoin, Crypto.com and Coinbase. The scale has allowed Binance as a whole to become a true crypto power player globally, and the company’s U.S. arm has followed in its footsteps, raising $200 million at a $4.5 billion valuation this month. The company was a later entry into the crypto exchange world, but a near-instant success story, in part because of how it structured its growth alongside its own coin, Binance Coin, and in part because of how quickly it could onboard new currencies onto the platform (partly because of its lax KYC approach). But as governments across the globe have cracked down, the company has gotten more serious about compliance, which culminated with CEO Changpeng Zhao saying that he was willing to step down if regulation becomes too much of an issue (even though he’s walked back those comments to some extent).
In the meantime, the company’s fix has been to set up country- or region-specific operations to protect the core business, though Coinbase has been vocal in saying that the offshore-centric strategy Binance uses is
just another way of skirting regulatory rules. But establishing regional entities is a strategy that’s led to some recent regulatory wins, a new compliance-centric acquisition strategy that’s paying off in Brazil to the tune of 125% year-on-year growth and more-public declarations of where the company is headed next. As a result, the company has emulated the Olympic-Athletes-from-Russia strategy: Binance as a whole may be banned from certain places, like the U.K. and the U.S., but it’s still very much a part of the landscape thanks to its local subsidiaries, and the connections to the original entity aren’t exactly hidden well.
Binance has made moves into the Gulf region recently, receiving trading approvals in the UAE and Bahrain and inching closer to having a full-time headquarters. The company has famously – or infamously in the eyes of regulators – been without an official headquarters, though the rumor mill says Dubai or Abu Dhabi could become home base for Zhao in the near future. That said, there were similar rumors about Ireland (and Malta and Singapore) being a potential landing spot, which the company later said were false. As it settles on a suitable home, the company has unexpectedly also started to make plays in the U.S. media scene, taking a $200 million stake in Forbes. An IPO could still be two to three years away though, Binance US’ CEO recently revealed.
They Said It
“The African continent holds some unique opportunities for cryptocurrency adoption and development and so, we’ve always been bullish in Africa. Crypto is solving the issues of cross-border payments and remittances (sending money within Africa and beyond), currency devaluation, etc.” – CEO Changpeng Zhao in a 2021 interview
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