The Co-Founder of Ripple, Chris Larsen, has become the first influential figure from the cryptocurrency industry to be added to the Forbes 400 Wealthiest Americans list based solely on wealth accumulated from digital assets. Larsen, who stepped down from his role as CEO of Ripple in 2016 but remains the executive chairman, is worth an estimated $2.1 billion. The latest Forbes 400 list was recently released for 2018, with Jeff Bezos usurping Microsoft’s Bill Gates at the top of the rankings after scooping an additional $78.5 billion in the last 12 months. It is the first time in 24 years that Gates has been taken off the top spot.
If you’re wondering who buys Ripple XRP tokens, you’ll be interested to hear that Larsen owns quite a lot of them himself – 5.19 billion to be exact. Not to mention the shares he owns in XRP’s parent company, Ripple. When XRP was worth $2.39 last year, Forbes estimated Larsen’s net worth at around $37 billion. However, the decline in the price of XRP to less than $0.50 has had a damaging effect on his net worth, which stands at $2.1 billion at the time of writing.
Ripple’s current CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, was also said to be worth $9.5 billion at the turn of the New Year, thanks entirely to the value of XRP. However, the volatility incurred by XRP and many other altcoins throughout 2018 has seen Garlinghouse’s personal wealth fall below the cusp to qualify for the Forbes 400 list. Of course, Ripple could yet improve the wealth of Larsen and Garlinghouse even further. Ripple’s xRapid cross-border blockchain-powered payments service launched last month, leading to a significant spike in the value of XRP.
Chris Larsen: a major name in Silicon Valley
Ripple is by no means the first technology venture for the Californian business executive. More than two decades ago, he co-founded E-Loan, an online mortgage lending service with Janina Pawlowski. Within two years, the pair had an offer of $130 million on the table from Intuit looking to buy them out. However, a rival bid from Yahoo, which saw Larsen and Pawlowski retain overall control of the company, was eventually accepted. By the time E-Loan was eventually sold to Banco Popular in 2005, it had sold over $19 billion in consumer loans.
Larsen’s decision to sell up and step down as CEO of E-Loan was based on the creation of Prosper Marketplace, the first peer-to-peer (P2P) platform of its kind in the US. Serving as the website’s CEO, Larsen co-founded Propser.com with John Witchel with an aim of creating an eBay-type service for lenders and borrowers. The platform’s online auction system enables borrowers to request personal loans too. It was following the success of Prosper Marketplace that Larsen decided to step down as CEO and co-found OpenCoin, the company behind the Ripple payment protocol.
Ripple: Prime for mainstream adoption
Many of the world’s largest banks and financial institutions are recognising that Ripple is the fastest and cheapest way to move money cross-border. Recently, the Royal Bank of Canada waxed lyrical about Ripple’s speed, transparency and affordability. Furthermore, Ripple’s newest partnership with Western Union and its integration with some of Walmart’s e-commerce systems have cemented it as the number-one go-between for digital banking and online business. Vocal detractors of the Ripple network such as Phillip Nunn have even backtracked somewhat on their predictions of its demise. Nunn believes Ripple will “become the Microsoft of crypto” as it has positioned itself perfectly for the increasing volume and liquidity once XRP-based products like xRapid reach the mainstream. It’s a hugely exciting time for Ripple, which could change the face of how we transfer funds for both retail and commercial purposes in the next decade.
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