Who is behind Binance A Borderless Company in 4000 ResumesBinance, a borderless company, has over 4000 resumes.
Who are the employees of the company that became the world’s number one in just 165 days after its establishment? Where do they come from?
By: Wang Hanyang, Contributing Author for LatePost
Editor: Cheng Manqi
Two years ago, at the end of the previous bull market for cryptocurrencies, LatePost had a conversation with Zhao Changpeng, the founder of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. He is a founder and his company is shrouded in a mist of blockchain cryptography composed of 0s and 1s. Due to the massive wealth effect, the founder’s elusive traces, and the mystery surrounding thousands of employees scattered around the world, it has attracted attention and discussions, but has never been fully revealed.
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In the bear market of 2022, Binance’s average daily trading volume is also 65 billion US dollars, which is about half of A-shares’ average daily trading volume in 2022 and more than 4 times that of Hong Kong stocks. According to CoinGecko data, on a certain day in November last year, Binance’s daily trading volume reached 136.7 billion US dollars. One practitioner said that even after reducing some fees last year, Binance’s profit still accounts for about 0.04% of the trading volume. In other words, within the 24 hours, Binance made a profit of more than 50 million US dollars just from its trading business. “What is the concept of having a ‘casino’ that everyone in the world participates in?”
The ability to make money like a printing press and the special position of being detached from regulation in the world of cryptocurrencies have also put Binance in a whirlpool. In June of this year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) formally sued Zhao Changpeng and his creation Binance, accusing Binance of “making profits through an extensive deception network,” putting investors at significant risk, and helping U.S. customers evade regulation. The 136-page lawsuit filed by SEC listed 13 charges.
The SEC’s lawsuit against Zhao Changpeng and Binance is still ongoing. The story of Binance and Zhao Changpeng is mixed with the new elements of this era: cutting-edge computer technology and decentralized organizational changes, as well as the long-standing desire for wealth and the misconception of the boundaries between freedom and rules. From a business perspective alone, Binance’s extraordinary rise speed and new organizational methods have also made it one of the most worthy companies to study at present.
Unraveling the story of this company and “finding Zhao Changpeng” is a huge undertaking, and today’s article is just a small beginning: it is from our contributing author Wang Hanyang, who, together with his friends, sorted through more than 4,000 resumes that can be found on the internet, from people claiming to have worked or interned at Binance. Their backgrounds and experiences piece together a glimpse of this mysterious company.
Below is the original text, and this article is also published in the newsletter https://crypto4.wtf/ and the English version is published in the newsletter https://picapica.wtf/.
For most people who are not interested in blockchain, Binance may just be a company that occasionally appears in technology news. But today, Binance has become one of the most unique and important companies in the fields of finance and technology: According to reports, Binance has about 8,000 employees (recently there have been news of layoffs), but the company does not have a headquarters. The employees are remotely scattered around the world, and many people may not have seen their colleagues from the time they joined to the time they left. Binance may become the largest distributed company in history. If people 30 years from now (about the time from the birth of the Internet to today) study the history of the Internet, Binance’s organizational structure will definitely be an unavoidable chapter.
In terms of business influence and profitability, Binance is also very important. Let’s compare it with the leader of the smartphone industry, Apple: According to Tokeninsight data, in Q2 2023, Binance had a market share of 50.6% in the cryptocurrency exchange market, while according to StrategyAnalytics data, Apple’s market share in the smartphone market in Q4 2022 was 24%, which is the highest Q4 market share in Apple’s history – but compared to Binance’s market share, it is much lower. Even in the cryptocurrency winter of 2022, according to CoinDesk data, Binance’s spot trading volume still reached 5.29 trillion US dollars. In 2022, Apple’s ecosystem in the App Store had a revenue and sales of 1.1 trillion US dollars, of which more than 90% was without commission. And Binance’s transactions have fees for most of the time. So if Apple is the dominant force in smartphones, then Binance is the absolute dominant force in the cryptocurrency market right now.
The absolute dominant force in the entire industry, coupled with a pioneering work model, makes Binance one of the most important companies of our time.
But on the other hand, Binance is also a mystery. It is even the biggest mystery on the global Internet today: rarely has a company been so important to an industry, yet we know so little about it.
42 days after the launch of Binance’s product, it ranked tenth in trading volume globally; 92 days later, it ranked fifth globally; 156 days later, it ranked third globally; and at 165 days, it became the global number one – until now. How did it achieve all this?
I have read almost all the articles about Binance on the Chinese and English internet, but I still cannot answer my questions about Binance. I can’t even ask key questions based on the information available online. So I plan to fill in the gaps about Binance through extensive research, investigation, analysis, and interviews.
Studying and visiting Binance is not easy. I hope to take advantage of every opportunity and all the information available, starting from the details, to launch this project. With a series of articles, I will try to make Binance’s story interesting and comprehensive, and more importantly, to encourage more friends to study and analyze this company that cannot be avoided in our time.
In the first article, let’s talk about the group of people who created Binance. Thanks to @LianGuaiincompiler for his help, he collected information from over 4,000 people who have worked or previously worked at Binance, and copied them down with a pencil on paper.
Please note: the information we collected may not be all accurate, and it does not cover the entire situation of Binance.
This article is based on the information of 4,182 “claimed” individuals who claim to have worked or previously worked at Binance, Binance US, or with Binance. Many people’s information is incomplete. Among them, 3,714 people have relatively more complete data. Among these 3,714 people, 1,624 should be current or former full-time employees of Binance, while others are interns, part-time employees, or freelancers who have worked with Binance. Unless otherwise specified, the following data is based on the 1,624 full-time employees.
“Borderless” Company: Singapore and the Middle East Have the Most Employees
Although blockchain has no borders, blockchain companies do have borders. However, Binance seems to be closer to “borderless” than any other company: in our sample, the people who created Binance come from 69 different countries or regions. Among them:
Singapore: 176 people
United Kingdom: 78 people
United Arab Emirates: 75 people
United States: 27 people
India: 24 people
As expected, Binance has a large number of employees in Singapore. The notebook data also shows that there is one employee working in the Cayman Islands—I thought this island was only used for company registration.
You may ask, what about Dubai? After all, both founders, Changpeng Zhao and He Yi, are in Dubai—Dubai is the economic center of the UAE, but it is a city, not a country. If we rank by city, Dubai would be in first place. There are 65 people in Dubai, 64 in London, and 16 in Amsterdam. These employees are distributed in a total of 86 cities.
As a company born in China, Binance still has employees working here—although we only collected data for one person. It is not ruled out that Binance employees working in mainland China deliberately hide their affiliation with the company.
Before Binance, the largest remote work organization in a well-known remote work company should be GitLab. GitLab is an open-source software company that claims to be the largest remote work organization in the world: 2,038 full-time employees and their 358 pets are distributed across 65 different countries or regions.
If we have more specific data, I believe the title of “largest remote work organization in the world” should be transferred to Binance. But I don’t just want to compare the scale, I want to prove that Binance is indeed a remote work company by comparing it with GitLab. Many people don’t believe that Binance does remote work, and they more or less think that Binance just claims to be remote to avoid regulation and that it’s all remote. Some also believe that Binance’s so-called remote work is just a common state for multinational companies—but the reality is probably not like that. Both Binance and GitLab should be considered the largest remote organizations on this planet.
If your vision is not limited to full-time work, then the 3714 people on our notebook who have had a cooperative relationship with Binance come from a total of 114 countries. This is much wider than the scope of Apple Store, where only 26 countries or regions have Apple Stores worldwide. However, there are 167 countries or regions where Apple Music can be used globally, but Binance only explicitly supports 47 countries or regions on its official website.
Although geographically, the distribution of Binance employees is very diverse, from the perspective of schools, three of the top 5 universities attended by Binance employees are located in Singapore, indicating that Singapore is indeed one of the centers of the crypto world.
National University of Singapore: 54 people
Nanyang Technological University: 47 people
University of London: 25 people
Singapore Management University: 24 people
National Taiwan University: 23 people
If we expand the criteria to include all 3714 people who have had a cooperative relationship with Binance, there are quite a few people with studying experience in the UK:
University of Cambridge: 219 people
National University of Singapore: 179 people
Nanyang Technological University: 128 people
Singapore Management University: 90 people
University of London: 90 people
One speculation is that as a rapidly growing company, Binance should have a strong demand for interns. As a company led by Chinese people, Chinese-speaking individuals who can also speak English are ideal recruiting choices. However, recruiting within China is not easy, so overseas Chinese students are very suitable.
There are 170,000 Chinese students in the UK, which is the largest source of students. Binance can provide suitable internship opportunities for these students. According to my observations, Chinese students in the UK face greater difficulties in finding internships and jobs locally compared to Chinese students in North America, so more people will flock to blockchain companies that can recruit globally. Singapore has a total of only 50,000 international students, with Chinese students accounting for one-third. Therefore, the number of interns will inevitably not be particularly large.
Zhao Changpeng, who is fond of Uber, recruited the most former Amazon employees and adjusted the layout like an Internet CEO
A former high-level executive at Binance told me that Zhao Changpeng is someone who loves reading books. In the early years, Binance had a core management team of over 40 people, and Zhao Changpeng would often throw in the books he had read for everyone to think together synchronously, jokingly “threatening” that those who didn’t read would be kicked out.
Most of these books are about management and company biographies. Among many companies, Zhao Changpeng particularly likes biographies about Uber and Netflix. Especially Uber, because the challenges faced by this ride-hailing giant in its early years were similar to those faced by Binance.
Zhao Changpeng not only reads, but also applies what he learns. Later, he also recruited many people from Uber. This can be confirmed by our full-time staff sample: 110 people have had work experience at Uber, ranking sixth in our data. The top five are:
Amazon: 204 people
Shopee: 153 people
Citigroup: 134 people
Agoda: 119 people (an online hotel booking website)
Coinbase: 111 people (a US cryptocurrency exchange)
So what do these people do at Binance?
Business-related: 761 people (46.86% of the total)
Technology-related: 329 people (20.26% of the total)
Operations-related: 243 people (14.96% of the total)
Uncertain: 291 people (17.92% of the total)
We cannot determine the positions of many people because the collected information may not be accurate and lacks a lot of key information. In this limited dataset, we can see that nearly half of the positions are related to business, which may reflect Binance’s emphasis on business expansion, sales, marketing, and strategy – essentially the pursuit of growth and market share expansion.
This reminds me of a story told by an interviewee: After Binance acquired CoinMarketCap, a cryptocurrency price tracking website and data provider, the interviewee participated in the redesign work for CoinMarketCap. During the discussion on the redesign, Zhao Changpeng carefully examined whether different positions were suitable for placing advertisements. In the end, Zhao Changpeng requested to remove the prominent ads on the homepage, leaving only a few small ad placements, and suggested the team to add ads in positions where users would not be disturbed, prioritizing user experience.
The removed ads accounted for a large portion of CMC’s revenue, but Zhao Changpeng believed that “if the user experience is worse than that of competitors, users will eventually leave, and high current revenue will be meaningless.” The final result was to retain only small ad placements and insert some smooth ads in positions where users would not be disturbed. However, since the majority of ad revenue was gone, Zhao Changpeng also adjusted the KPIs of the employees accordingly. The interviewee described Zhao Changpeng as having a broad perspective and focusing on key issues.
Over a quarter of the sample received promotions at Binance
I tried to determine which industries Binance tends to recruit talent from based on the data, and unsurprisingly, they are the technology and finance industries. One interesting thing is that through our small sample data, it can be seen that the proportion of internal promotions among Binance employees is approximately 26.46%. This may indicate that Binance places great emphasis on internal promotions within the organization, or on transferring employees between different branches or subsidiaries.
From the description of these employees’ positions, Binance’s requirements for skills mainly focus on three areas: cryptocurrency and blockchain knowledge, customer service skills, and compliance and anti-money laundering expertise – indicating that Binance seems to place a strong emphasis on compliance.
Binance and compliance is a controversial topic. In most countries, Binance is considered non-compliant. Especially the disputes between Binance and the SEC. Although Binance has been sued by the SEC, most observers believe that this is just the prelude to a more intense struggle, and the real battle is yet to come. Moreover, the process of Binance’s efforts to pursue compliance can basically span the entire history of the company, which is worth further elaboration in the future.
This article is only a basic analysis of Binance, and the questions it raises far outweigh the answers that can be obtained.
From the limited data available, Binance is a rapidly growing exchange distributed globally. How are its employees organized and coordinated? What kind of people manage it and through what specific methods? How does it face increasingly severe challenges? Where are the potential problems it may encounter? These questions need further exploration.
Binance is like a map full of fog of war, and we hope that through our efforts, we can gradually explore the full picture. Because Binance is destined to become one of the most important companies of this era.
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