Binance CEO Says It Had First Pick Over FTX in Recent Crypto Deals

Zhao says Binance is having acquisition conversations with more than 50 crypto companies


Binance’s Changpeng Zhao


key takeaways

  • Binance and FTX are actively looking to support struggling crypto companies
  • Conversations around acquisitions turned mainstream after FTX started talks to acquire crypto lender BlockFi for $25 million

The bear market has led to a series of fire sales. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao now says the exchange likely had first pick over its competitor FTX, which is in talks to acquire crypto lender BlockFi for just $25 million. 

“The same deals that you see on the news, they typically come to us first,” Zhao said in a live-streamed interview with Bankless. “I’m pretty confident that we have by far the largest cash reserve right now.”

Although Zhao saw the importance of lending a hand to struggling crypto companies, he emphasized that “not all projects are worth saving.”

“We don’t want to bail out companies that are mismanaged,” he said. “We do want to help the majority of the companies that have a little bit of a liquidity crunch to go through this cycle, we’re [currently] talking to 50 plus of them.”

Many lending protocols in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space are headquartered in the United States. Zhao said the recent liquidity crisis has led to more deals happening in the region. The crypto billionaire added that FTX’s US arm can focus on helping more local companies in comparison to Binance, which has more global reach.

“It’s not us versus them,” Zhao said. “We [should] all do what we can.”

Some in the industry believe Zhao and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried are working together to support key parts of the crypto industry that are under threat as the liquidity crunch unfolds. “SBF and other big players such as CZ at Binance are propping up this market. They’re both working tirelessly to support the industry,” a senior executive at a major investment bank, who asked not to be named, told Blockworks in a recent interview.

Zhao credits Binance’s survival of the bear market thus far to understanding markets’ cyclical nature and holding a large amount in cash reserves. He hopes to use this opportunity to hire talent and consolidate the market.

The exchange currently boasts more than 2,000 job openings, half of them roles in engineering. Other positions include customer support, marketing, legal and compliance. 

“We want to get to around 8,000 people by the end of the year,” Zhao said. “I do want to retire, sooner or later. I’ve been CEO of Binance for five years, and I don’t think that a CEO should [hold the title] for longer than ten years.”

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