Mr. Zhao founded Binance after a brief career in finance, including a stint at Bloomberg, where he built trading software. He created the exchange when he was living in Shanghai.
But soon after, the Chinese government banned cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance from operating in the country, and many of the company’s employees fled. Mr. Zhao maintains an active presence on Twitter but isn’t always easy to track down, having moved between Japan, Singapore, Lithuania, Malta and Dubai.
Binance’s lack of a fixed headquarters is in keeping with the trend of remote work, said Jessica Jung, a company spokeswoman. In an emailed statement, Ms. Jung said the exchange had established a local presence in nearly a dozen jurisdictions, including in Kazakhstan and France.
Ms. Jung said Binance had also announced that it was undergoing a corporate restructuring, “the aim of which is to provide regulators with further clarity about our organization.” But promises made a year ago to name a headquarters and assemble a board of directors to diversify oversight of the company remain unfulfilled.
Binance is a behemoth compared with its peers. Before FTX’s collapse, the trading volume of cryptocurrencies on Binance alone was greater than the combined totals of its seven closest competitors, according to an industry data tracker.
In a group chat that included Mr. Bankman-Fried on Nov. 10, the day before FTX filed for bankruptcy, Mr. Zhao portrayed himself as the elder statesman of crypto. He accused the FTX founder of making trades that would undermine the broader crypto market, according to screenshots obtained by The Times. “Stop now, don’t cause more damage,” he said. “The more damage you do now, the more jail time.”
The group chat included several other prominent crypto executives, and Mr. Zhao seemed eager to devise a common strategy. “I think we should coordinate a bit to see how we best work together to help stabilize and restore confidence for the market,” he said.