In the world of cryptocurrency, a whale is an investor holding a vast number of crypto coins in one particular currency.
Table of contents
- 1. Brian Armstrong: Net Worth £4.78 Billion
- 2. Sam Bankman-Fried: Net Worth £3.31 Billion
- 3. Chris Larsen: Net Worth £2.13 Billion
- 4. Michael Saylor: Net Worth £1.47 Billion
- 5. Changpeng Zhao: Net Worth £1.4 Billion
- 6. The Winklevoss Twins: Net Worth £1.18 Billion (Each)
- 7. Barry Silbert: Net Worth £1.1 Billion
- 8. Jed McCaleb: Net Worth £1.03 Billion
- 9. Tim Draper: Net Worth £810 Million
- 10. Matthew Roszak: Net Worth £740 Million
- Top Crypto Influencers
- Biggest Crypto Whales FAQ
- Related Information
These whales hold, for example, more than 1,000 Bitcoins – currently traded at about £28,000 a token and worth millions of dollars.
It’s worth understanding whales because any actions they take can lead to a ripple effect throughout the market, blowing smaller fish out of the water and generating a significant impact on token valuations.
By keeping track of where the whales are swimming, you can understand how they intend to influence the markets to make profits and what that means for a more modest portfolio.
1. Brian Armstrong: Net Worth £4.78 Billion
Armstrong is the CEO of Coinbase – one of the largest crypto exchanges globally, handling around £2.21 billion in trades a day.
The 38-year-old co-founded the exchange back in 2012 after working at Deloitte and AirBnB.
Now Coinbase is the biggest and highest valued US crypto business.
With a 20 per cent ownership stake, Armstrong says his passion is to drive innovation and an open financial network that allows for freedom of trade.
2. Sam Bankman-Fried: Net Worth £3.31 Billion
Bankman-Fried is remarkably high up on this list, at only 28, handling a whopping £1.84 billion of assets via his quantitative cryptocurrency trading organisation, called Alameda Research.
Formerly a Wall Street ETF trader, Bankman-Fried launched FTX in 2019 and holds most of his wealth in the derivatives equities and tokens, traded as FTT.
3. Chris Larsen: Net Worth £2.13 Billion
Larsen was one of the co-founders of the online credit lender ELoan in 1997, followed by peer-to-peer lending platform Prosper eight years later.
In 2012, Larsen launched Ripple with Jed McCaleb, also on this list of whales. Ripple is a blockchain tech network that allows cross-border banking transactions via XRP tokens.
When XRP crashed in 2018, his £12.5 billion fortune also dived, although it’s fair to say he remains hugely wealthy.
He was called as a defendant during the 2020 lawsuit brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with claims Ripple sold XRP tokens as unregistered securities – the case is still in the discovery phase two years later.
4. Michael Saylor: Net Worth £1.47 Billion
Saylor is CEO of MicroStrategy and one of the original internet entrepreneurs, even featuring in the Most Eligible Bachelors list in People Magazine.
After the dot-com bubble burst, Saylor lost much of his stock value but bounced back. When MicroStrategy borrowed $650 million to purchase over 70,000 Bitcoin, the share price boomed by 300 per cent.
Saylor also snagged an asset base of 17,732 Bitcoin for around £129 million, which are now worth closer to £478 billion, making a tidy profit in the process.
5. Changpeng Zhao: Net Worth £1.4 Billion
Better known as CZ, Zhao is a Chinese-Canadian exec that bet big on Bitcoin in 2014 when he sold his Shanghai home to finance his investment.
After launching Binance in 2017, it became the most popular online crypto exchange in less than 12 months and now has arms from venture capital funds to Bitcoin mining and crypto debit cards.
While CZ was temporarily exiled from China, he worked regular jobs at petrol stations and even McDonalds to cover his expenses – which must be a distant dream given his success since then.
6. The Winklevoss Twins: Net Worth £1.18 Billion (Each)
The Winklevoss brothers became famous after accusing Mark Zuckerberg, an alumnus at Harvard, of stealing their social network concept.
They won a cool $65 million in a 2012 settlement (about £48 million) and invested a stack of it in Bitcoin. Today, the brothers still own around 70,000 Bitcoin, among other portfolio assets.
In 2014 the brothers co-founded Gemini, a crypto exchange that processes around £147 million in daily trades.
7. Barry Silbert: Net Worth £1.1 Billion
Silbert invested the proceeds from the sale of the stock trading platform Second-Market, bought by Nasdaq in 2015, in Digital Currency Group.
This conglomerate comprises five businesses, one of which is Grayscale, the digital asset management firm.
Grayscale manages around a $28 billion (£20.6 billion) asset portfolio, including Bitcoin and Ether. It was the first successful applicant to secure approval to trade Bitcoin-backed securities, generating around £434 million per year.
8. Jed McCaleb: Net Worth £1.03 Billion
McCaleb, a Ripple co-founder, left the organisation following disagreements with the other founders.
In 2010, he started the market-leading Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, selling a year on, and then launched cryptocurrency Stellar in 2014, now a Ripple competitor with a £3.53 billion asset base.
Most of McCaleb’s wealth comes from the 3.4 billion XRP he owns, leftover from the 9 billion he received as a founder of Ripple.
Before playing the crypto game, he was known as the creator of eDonkey2000, a file-sharing service that paid out $30 million in a lawsuit over copyright infringements.
9. Tim Draper: Net Worth £810 Million
Draper, a founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a celebrated venture capital firm, has amassed an impressive fortune through investments in businesses such as Theranos and Tesla.
Part of the digital investment dynasty, Draper bought 29,656 Bitcoin in 2014, which had been confiscated by US officials, for a bargain price of $632 per coin (£465, or a total investment of about £13.79 million.
The gamble paid off since those Bitcoins are now worth £810 million – although Draper won’t disclose how many more he now owns.
10. Matthew Roszak: Net Worth £740 Million
Our tenth whale is Roszak, an established venture capitalist and entrepreneur who started building a crypto portfolio in 2012.
Today he is co-founder and chair of Bloq, the blockchain tech start-up based in Chicago. In addition, he consults on high-level banking initiatives to set up digital asset security measures.
Roszak also co-led a scheme to offer $50 of digital assets to every Congress member, although not all accepted.
Top Crypto Influencers
Whales are just part of the crypto picture – with several charismatic figures providing a significant level of influence.
Tesla and SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk is among the best known. Another is John McAfee, the original cybersecurity pioneer who died in June 2021.
One to watch is Vitalik Buterin, the Ethereum co-founder and among the youngest crypto billionaires.
Buterin is an active writer and one of the founders of Bitcoin Magazine and tweets regularly where you can follow his thoughts about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
Another crypto influencer worth following is Roger Ver, sometimes referred to as Bitcoin Jesus.
Ver was one of the first Bitcoin promoters in 2011 before it hit heady heights and has invested considerable amounts in firms such as Bitcoin itself, Kraken, Ripple and Purse.io.
Biggest Crypto Whales FAQ
What is a Whale Alert in crypto trading?
Whale Alert is a tracking service that analyses blockchain transactions and provides live updates and data to help traders understand changing trends.
When large transactions take place, the service alerts traders.
How many bitcoin whales are there?
Three Bitcoin addresses own over 100,000 Bitcoin – Binance, Bitfinex and an unknown investor.
Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous Bitcoin creator, thought to own over one million BTC worth somewhere around $4.5 billion, is the biggest Bitcoin whale out there.
Some of the largest crypto asset base owners are companies using treasury savings to hedge against inflation, like Tesla, Galaxy Digital and MicroStrategy.
What happens if a whale dumps all their crypto?
Pump and dump refer to a whale spending huge amounts on one token or coin to artificially drive prices upwards.
That means retail investors and traders see a positive performance and buy in a rally, which causes the price to keep climbing, in a kind of snowball effect.
This process is one of many ways whales can have dramatic, almost instant impacts on the market, always to improve their profits.
In this scenario, a whale with a large crypto holding can sell as soon as the price has risen sufficiently, making enormous gains and potentially leaving other new investors with crypto assets that will quickly drop in value.
How much crypto do you need to be a whale?
The term whale is used widely in crypto, but it isn’t a defined phrase indicating a specific number of crypto tokens or asset value.
Normally, a whale is someone with over 1,000 Bitcoin or equivalent in another high-demand cryptocurrency.
What is the difference between a crypto whale and an influencer?
A whale is an individual or institutional investor with a large asset holding in one of the leading cryptocurrencies.
Influencers aren’t necessarily whales, although they can be both.
Instead, crypto influencers are public figures that often share insights into crypto, forecast performance, and use different social media platforms to engage with users interested in blockchain technology.
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