4 Things CZ Can Do in Seattle While Waiting to See If He’s Going to Prison
Going just by headlines, you’d probably think Changpeng “CZ” Zhao is having yet another bad week: Days after pleading guilty to violating U.S. anti-money laundering laws and sanctions and ultimately resigning as Binance’s CEO, the beleaguered crypto mogul got word today that, at least for now, he’s barred from leaving the United States while awaiting sentencing.
In one sense, today’s developments are not ideal for the Dubai-based executive. But in another, they present an opportunity.
Crypto’s richest man, by his own admission, has not taken a single day off work in over six years. Now, whether Zhao likes it or not, he finds himself stuck in the U.S. and was most recently in Seattle—the emerald-green jewel of the Pacific Northwest which, teeming with cultural and natural wonders, was recently voted 7th best American city for a vacation by U.S. News & World Report.
Instead of stressing over his legal fate, Zhao could seize the moment and finally give himself a long-overdue break in one of America’s most exciting and unique cultural centers. Here are just a few local Seattle gems that the ousted Binance CEO should check out while awaiting sentencing for facilitating money laundering.
Seattle is, famously, the birthplace of grunge. It takes just one visit to the city to realize no other rainy, moody backdrop could have produced the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden all within a matter of years. While Zhao has never publicly professed his love for the music genre, it might be well suited to his current state of mind.
Highlighting themes of social alienation, self-doubt, and neglect, grunge could be an ideal soundtrack for a tech founder who just made the isolating choice to sever himself from his life’s work, rather than take that project down with him—and who publicly doubts he will ever create anything nearly as impressive as Binance in his remaining time on Earth.
If Zhao’s looking for some great headbanging tunes and a likeminded audience to get some angst out of his system, he should head to Funhouse, a low-key live music bar churning out high-volume, trippy rock acts almost every night. Located just south of Capitol Hill, Funhouse epitomizes Seattle’s still-thriving local music scene. The club’s management currently prohibits stage diving and jackets with sharp spikes, but perhaps it would be willing to make an exception here—if Zhao really needs an extra dose of hardcore.
After exorcising a few demons from his system, Zhao should treat himself to some self care. And no restaurant in the Seattle area could be better suited to a long-overdue solo date than Spinasse.
Opened in 2008, the high-end Capitol Hill trattoria’s relatively small menu focuses exclusively on rotating pastas and meats sourced from the Piemonte region of Northern Italy. That specificity, paired with supremely fresh, locally sourced ingredients, has paid off: Food Network recently ranked the restaurant’s Tajarin al Ragu—a tomato-light but deceptively rich bolognese sauce integrated with delighfully thin handmade egg noodles—one of America’s top five Italian dishes.
At a candlelit table in Spinasse’s modern-meets-rustic dining room, over a handpicked bottle of Barolo from the restaurant’s meticulously sourced wine list, Zhao could finally take a minute to breathe—and take stock of his life.
Sure, he just had to fork over $50 million to the government of a country he doesn’t even live in, and yeah, he’ll probably never be able to look at the number “4” again without wanting to hide in a middle school bathroom out of pure embarrassment. But god, this duck confit cavatelli is insane with the quince mostarda, and oh wow, this bottle’s almost done. It goes down so easily with the food. What was he even upset about in the first place? What’s for dessert?
3. Deception Pass State Park
Zhao will presumably be a bit hungover the next morning, but that offers yet another opportunity: Stop watching “Shark Tank” in your hotel room and anxiously fixating on what Kevin O’Leary must think about you now, and go explore the fresh outdoors! Seattle offers some of America’s most stunning and untouched natural beauty, and just minutes from the city’s center.
If Zhao is willing to throw on some NPR and take a leisurely hour-and-a-half car ride up towards the Canadian border (don’t cross it!), he’ll be immensely rewarded with the world-class beauty of Deception Pass.
The state park, which straddles two islands just off the Washington coast, offers some of the freshest greenery in the country, plus beaches, tide pools, and ample whale watching. True, the park’s name may give Zhao a jolt, bringing him back to nasty accusations that Binance misappropriated user funds as FTX did, a crime that the crypto founder has repeatedly denied and which he recently said was disproved by the company’s settlement with the U.S. But all he need do is connect with the park’s wildlife, and let those ephemeral worries wash away.
Zhao can roll up his pants cuffs to explore the myriad moon snails, anemones, crabs, and sea stars he’ll find in the park’s many shallow coastal pools. As he wades into the ocean and observes the majestic, slow-motion dance of humpbacks and orcas present in numbers he never thought possible, he will come to see his place in the awe-inducing miracle of our planet’s circle of life. He will marvel at life’s many forms, massive and minuscule, and he will finally know peace.
4. The Space Needle
If Zhao is allowed to go home to Dubai and see his wife and children again, they’re probably going to get pretty annoyed if he just shows them a lot of selfies and keeps raving about the life-changing trip he had without them. In other words, he’s going to need to bring home some presents.
So while most Seattleites will probably roll their eyes at any invocation of the city’s most famous landmark, it’s probably worth a trip to the Space Needle to pick up some shirts and mugs for the family. Tickets cost $59.50 these days, which isn’t cheap. But Zhao is still a billionaire, even after last week. And sometimes it’s better to play into people’s idea of a place, as opposed to explaining to them what exactly happened in Seattle… and why you now cry whenever Nirvana comes on, or you see the ocean.
Edited by Andrew Hayward