Michelle Legge
By Michelle LeggeHead of Crypto Tax Education
Updated Jun 21, 2024
This article has been fact checked and reviewed as per our editorial policy.

Crypto Whales: Who Are the Biggest Investors in Crypto?

Crypto whales significantly impact the market, including prices, liquidity, and governance. Learn about crypto whales - including the biggest whales in 2024.

What is a crypto whale?

A crypto whale is a term used to describe individuals or entities that possess a substantial amount of cryptocurrency. These whales are often associated with major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, though they may also hold significant amounts of various altcoins.

The concept of a "whale" comes from traditional financial markets, where it refers to investors whose large holdings can impact market movements, including notable market shifts due to the sheer volume of their trades.

Crypto whales can be private individuals, corporations, or organizations.

They often prefer over-the-counter trading to avoid causing major market disruptions. Nonetheless, some whales might deliberately influence the market through large-scale transactions, which can lead to both positive and negative effects.

Read next: What determines the price of crypto?

Why do crypto whales matter?

Crypto whales matter because they can significantly influence market sentiment and price movements. When a whale decides to sell a large quantity of a particular cryptocurrency, it can trigger a price drop. Conversely, if a whale buys a substantial amount, it can drive the price up. This often leads to a domino effect, as other investors follow the whale's actions.

These significant trades also impact the liquidity of a specific coin on exchanges. Whales have the ability to create artificial demand or supply through their trading activities, resulting in price volatility and potential losses for smaller investors. This makes their presence and actions crucial to understanding market dynamics.

Read next: 5 Best Crypto Charts for Traders

How do crypto whales influence the market?

Crypto whales can influence the market in regard to liquidity, price, and governance.

The best way to understand how crypto whales can influence the market is with a real-world example, like the infamous Terra collapse.

The crash - that wiped $40 billion from investors’s holdings - was originally thought to largely be the result of a de-pegging incident followed by a bank run, and this remains largely true. But crypto analytics firm Nansen studied the collapse and found that just seven whales began the bank run, selling their UST holdings between the 7th and 11th of May, leading to further de-pegging incidents and continuing to decrease investor confidence. 

Read next: What happened to Terra?

How much crypto do you need to be a whale?

There’s no definitive definition for the amount of crypto needed to be a whale, partially due to the fact that cryptocurrency prices vary so much. In general, most agree that an investor who owns around 10% of a given cryptocurrency is a whale.

Who is the largest crypto whale in the world?

The wallet address featured in Bitcoin’s white paper holds 1 million BTC (worth more than $25 billion at the time of writing). It is unknown whether this wallet belongs to Satoshi Nakamoto or a group of people. If it’s the former though, Satoshi Nakamoto would be the largest crypto whale in the world. 

Read next: Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

How do crypto whales protect their identities?

Like many other crypto investors, whales may well just value the anonymity of crypto. However, some may not wish to reveal their holdings for more iniquitous reasons. Elon Musk, for example, has been accused of hyping coins like DOGE in order to pump the price before selling holdings. Nobody is aware of what crypto investments Musk currently has.

Read next: How to Buy Dogecoin

How do I track crypto whales?

Because whales can have such significant impacts on market movements, many investors opt to track whales with holdings in their portfolios. There are plenty of tools dedicated to doing just this, including Whale Alert. This platform sends out notifications whenever a transaction over a given amount occurs, so you can always stay ahead of the curve on any market movements from whales.

Who are the biggest crypto investors in the world?

As previously discussed, many of the wallets with the largest holdings in the world are held anonymously - however, there are many known crypto investors with a huge net wealth - with a significant amount of this wealth coming from crypto investments. These include:

  1. Changpeng Zhao (Estimated $15 Billion Net Worth): Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as CZ, is a Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume. Forbes estimated CZ’s net worth at $15 billion as of March 5, 2024, though some analysts believe he could be much wealthier.

  2. Brian Armstrong (Estimated $10 Billion Net Worth): Brian Armstrong is the CEO of Coinbase, the largest US-based cryptocurrency exchange. Forbes estimated Armstrong’s wealth at $10 billion as of March 5, 2024.

  3. Barry Silbert ($10 Billion Net Worth): Barry Silbert is the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG), a venture capital firm focused on the cryptocurrency industry. DCG, founded in 2015, has become a significant player in cryptocurrency through its investments and subsidiaries like Grayscale Investments and CoinDesk. Silbert’s wealth was estimated at $10 billion as of March 5, 2024.

  4. Chris Larsen ($3.2 Billion Net Worth): Chris Larsen, co-founder of Ripple Labs, is known for his involvement with Ripple and its XRP cryptocurrency. Larsen's estimated net worth peaked at $4.6 billion in early 2018 but was valued at $3.2 billion as of March 5, 2024, according to Forbes.

  5. Fred Ehrsam ($2.9 Billion Net Worth): Fred Ehrsam co-founded Coinbase with Brian Armstrong in 2012. Ehrsam left Coinbase in 2017 but retained significant wealth from his involvement. As of March 5, 2024, Ehrsam’s net worth was $2.9 billion according to Forbes.

  6. Jed McCaleb ($2.7 Billion Net Worth): Jed McCaleb co-founded Ripple, created Stellar Lumen (XLM), and founded the first major Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox (trading suspended in 2014). McCaleb’s ventures have made him a top crypto billionaire, with a net worth of $2.7 billion as of March 5, 2024.

  7. Devin Finzer ($2.2 Billion Net Worth): Devin Finzer is the co-founder of OpenSea, a leading marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). His net worth was $2.2 billion as of March 5, 2024, according to Forbes.

  8. Alex Atallah ($2.2 Billion Net Worth): Alex Atallah, co-founded OpenSea in 2017 with Devin Finzer. The success of OpenSea in the NFT space has made Atallah a prominent crypto investor, with an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion as of March 5, 2024.

  9. Kim Hyoung-Nyon ($1.95 Billion Net Worth): Kim Hyoung-Nyon is the co-founder and executive vice president of Dunamu, which operates South Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, Upbit. Hyoung-Nyon has become one of South Korea’s first crypto billionaires, with a net worth of $1.95 billion according to Forbes.

  10. Nikil Viswanathan and Joe Lau ($1.5 Billion Net Worth Each): Nikil Viswanathan and Joe Lau co-founded Alchemy in 2017. Each of their net worths was estimated at $1.5 billion as of March 5, 2024, according to Forbes.

  11. Winklevoss Twins ($1.4 Billion Net Worth Each): Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, known for their early involvement with Facebook, have made significant investments in Bitcoin and co-founded the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange. Their early Bitcoin investments and the success of Gemini have resulted in each of their net worths being estimated at $1.4 billion as of March 5, 2024, according to Forbes.

As well as this, as crypto continues to be more widely accepted as a legitimate investment in the mainstream, many companies now have large holdings in crypto - predominantly Bitcoin - including:

CompanyCountry Total Est. Bitcoin Holdings
MicroStrategy🇺🇸226,331
Galaxy Digital🇺🇸17,518
Marathon Digital🇺🇸13,716
Tesla🇺🇸10,500
Hut 8🇨🇦9,366
Coinbase🇺🇸9,181
Block Inc.🇺🇸8,027
Riot Platforms🇺🇸7,327
Hive Blockchain🇨🇦2,596
CleanSpark🇺🇸2,575

FAQs

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