Binance founder and former CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao is cooling his heels in jail. He was sentenced to serve four months following his guilty plea for violating U.S. anti-money laundering laws. However, like the stone bowls of water in Chiang Mai, where little fish can be seen swimming around, with one or two lotus flowers growing out of the dirty, muddy water, the fortunes of Binance and its founder seem set to increase.

Related: The Trials of Changpeng Zhao: From Crypto Success To 36 Months Imprisonment

According to a maxim credited to Heraclitus, the only constant in life is change. This means there are hundreds of ways a person’s life could go—the difference is how anyone adapts to inevitable changes or prepares themselves. CZ’s life could have gone a hundred ways after he pleaded guilty to money laundering violations last November.

Prepared for his Next Act

Instead of surrendering to fate and becoming a sitting duck, the man who ran the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange traveled across the U.S. to prepare for his next act. The once leading mogul in the crypto space had to resign as Binance CEO and went on to pay a $50 million fine. Despite the prosecutors seeking a 36-month prison term and Zhao and the defense team asking for a probationary nun-custodial sentence, a Federal judge in Seattle sentenced him to four months behind bars.

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Tens of influential crypto executives have recently faced criminal charges and federal lawsuits following the industry’s implosion in 2022, and some, like FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) who was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Nonetheless, after being handed what most people believe was a slap on the wrist, CZ’s fate seems to be different for more reasons than one.  

Binance’s Largest Shareholder 

First, even though he resigned as the chief executive of Binance, he remains the firm’s majority shareholder, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Moreover, the exchange’s board of directors comprises his close contacts, while co-founder We Yi, the mother of his three kids, holds the firm’s reins. Irrespective of the bad press surrounding the fate of its founder, Binance remains the largest crypto exchange by trading volume.

After Changpeng Zhao pleaded guilty last November, the 47-year-old didn’t just sit still, even after a federal judge denied him permission to visit his home in Dubai. Since he was free to roam the United States while awaiting the fall of the sword of Damocles, he traversed the country, networking with entrepreneurs and planning his next move. Last March, CZ announced the launch of a new web platform specializing in online education. Mr. Zhao is said to have already had a deep interest in investing in artificial intelligence (A.I.) and biotechnology.

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“Do not judge me by my success; judge me by how many times I fell and got back up again.” ― Nelson Mandela

Put Together Something out of his Loss

Despite the ominous cloud hanging over his head, Mr. Zhao’s resilience in accepting his new reality, even when it looked less than good, and his decision to fight on rather than scream about what was lost and try again to put together something out of his loss seem to have borne fruit. While his former rival SBF was ostracized mainly after the 2022 implosion of FTX, CZ still enjoys widespread support and goodwill within the crypto industry.  

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