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Get to Know the Ripple Co-founder: Chris Larsen

The former CEO of 3 successful startups

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Overview

Chris Larsen was a notable figure long before he co-founded Ripple. His history is filled with CEO positions in famous and successful startups including E-loan, Prosper Marketplace and Ripple Labs. Ripple brought him into the crypto limelight as it became the second-largest virtual currency at one point. According to Forbes, the Stanford graduate is now the richest person in the crypto world.

Education & Career

Chris Larsen was born in San Jose in 1960 and completed his entire education in California. After graduating with an international business and accounting degree from San Francisco State University in 1984, he went on to receive an MBA from Stanford University. During this period, he also worked for Chevron in different countries such as Ecuador, Brazil and Indonesia.

Larsen understood the difficulties in obtaining a loan from personal experience, which is why he created the online mortgage lending platform E-loan Inc. in 1996, along with a friend Janina Pawlowski. Larsen served as the President until 1998, after which he became the CEO and Pawlowski became the President. The same year, due to shortage of money, the two founders had to decide whether they should sell their company to Inuit or not. Luckily, they found a way out when Yahoo! offered them a deal that didn’t require them to lose control of the company. The market value of E-loan successfully rose to $1 billion in 2000. Larsen also had a big hand in making the California privacy law a reality in 2003. He founded the ‘Californians for Privacy Now’ coalition, which gathered 600,000 signatures to pass a bill to safeguard the privacy of customers from financial institutions. He also created the Chris Larsen Scholarship Fund for San Francisco State University which gave $2,500 each semester to 10 students pursuing a teaching career. Later, Larsen gave up his position as CEO in E-loan in February 2005.

Larsen co-founded Prosper Marketplace which he called the “eBay for money and credit”. By 2011, Prosper was responsible for funding $271 million loans for its users while Larsen famously spoke about the need to modify traditional banking systems and creating innovative startups through crowdfunding. He resigned as CEO in March 2012 and in the same year co-founded OpenCoin, a payment system which could be used for any currency.

The Rise of Ripple

OpenCoin ran the Ripple protocol for its payment and even had its own currency called Ripple (XRP). The company’s name was eventually changed to Ripple Labs Inc. in 2013. That same year, Ripple network was declared open source, which meant that it had become decentralized. Unlikethe  Bitcoin blockchain, Ripple could be used to verify transactions for all kinds of ‘assets’. Ripple’s market cap is currently at $46 billion while XRP is valued at $1.18. It has managed to retain a position in the top 5 cryptocurrencies of all time. In 2018, Larsen officially became the richest person in the crypto world with a net worth of almost $8 billion – he holds 5.19 billion XRP and a 17% share in Ripple Labs. Larsen switched his CEO position for executive chairman in November 2016 and currently advises Distilled Analytics Inc. and Credit Karma.

Awards & Achievements

  • Co-founder of E-loan, Prosper Marketplace and Ripple
  • Alum of the year 2004 (San Francisco State University)
  • Co-founder of ‘Californians for Privacy Now’
  • Richest person in the crypto world (2018)

Notable Quotes

On the difference between banks and Ripple:

“Banking now is like sending a letter, you send it you don’t know if it reached there. Ripple is more like sending an iMessage, you send it and you immediately know.”

On banking:

“You need banking, but you don’t need banks.”

On Bitcoin:

“Bitcoin solved the double-spend problem. The key problem was payment confirmation without central clearing. Bitcoin’s solution was ingenious but wasteful – it’s fairly slow, and you can’t put other things on it.”

On the future of Ripple:

“We believe that Ripple will change the way the world thinks about and uses currency through universal access to a trusted, transparent, and easy-to-understand multi-currency financial tool.”

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