Binance founder Changpeng Zhao (aka "CZ") has officially resigned as CEO of Binance, he said in a tweet Tuesday, as the United States Department of Justice announced charges against Zhao and the exchange.
"I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility," Zhao wrote. "This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself."
Zhao tweeted that Richard Teng, previously Binance's Global Head of Regional Markets, will take over as CEO. Teng joined Binance in 2021 as its Singapore CEO, and was named to his current role this past May.
"Richard is a highly qualified leader, and with over three decades of financial services and regulatory experience, he will navigate the company through its next period of growth," Zhao tweeted. "He will ensure Binance delivers on our next phase of security, transparency, compliance, and growth."
Today, I stepped down as CEO of Binance. Admittedly, it was not easy to let go emotionally. But I know it is the right thing to do. I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility. This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself.
Binance is no longer a baby. It is…
— CZ 🔶 Binance (@cz_binance) November 21, 2023
Zhao resigned from his role as part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, and is barred from being an executive with Binance for at least three years after an independent monitor is appointed. He still is the majority owner of Binance, however, but the exchange will continue operating outside of the United States.
Teng tweeted shortly after Zhao and commented on his plans ahead.
"It is an honor and with the deepest humility that I step into the role of Binance’s new CEO," Teng wrote. "We operate the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume. The trust placed on us by our 150 million users and thousands of employees is a responsibility that I take seriously and hold dear."
It is an honour and with the deepest humility that I step into the role of Binance’s new CEO.
We operate the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume. The trust placed on us by our 150m users and thousands of employees is a responsibility that I take seriously and hold…
— Richard Teng (@_RichardTeng) November 21, 2023
"With CZ, and our leadership team’s support, I have accepted this role so that we can continue to meet and exceed the expectations of stakeholders while achieving our core mission, the freedom of money," Feng added.
In the tweet, Zhao said that he plans to take a break before pursuing other interests around the crypto and tech industries.
"My current thinking is I will probably do some passive investing, being a minority token/shareholder in startups in areas of blockchain/Web3/DeFi, AI and biotech," he wrote. "I am happy that I will finally have more time to spend looking at DeFi."
"I can’t see myself being a CEO driving a startup again," Zhao continued. "I am content being a one-shot (lucky) entrepreneur. Should there be listeners, I may be open to being a coach/mentor to a small number of upcoming entrepreneurs, privately. If for nothing else, I can at least tell them what not to do."
Zhao's guilty plea and resignation come following years of dismissive responses to various accusations about wrongdoing at the company. In January, Zhao wrote that he planned to tweet the number "4" every time such accusations were made, and that doing so would indicate to followers that they should "ignore FUD, fake news, attacks, etc."
"FUD" is an industry acronym that stands for "fear, uncertainty, and doubt," and is often shared by crypto advocates to deflect criticism and imply that the accusations are deliberate misinformation or otherwise mistaken. True to his word, Zhao tweeted "4" many times prior to Tuesday.
Editor's note: This story was updated after publication with additional details.