Chris Larsen: From Bank Clerk to Billionaire

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Photo - Chris Larsen: From Bank Clerk to Billionaire
Chris Larsen, an American entrepreneur, co-founded and led Ripple Labs. This company is famous for creating RippleNet, a peer-to-peer payment system leveraging the XRP cryptocurrency.


  • Born: 1960 (63 years old as of the article's publication);
  • Birthplace: San Jose, California (Silicon Valley);
  • Parents: Father was an aircraft mechanic, mother a graphic designer;
  • Education: Graduated from high school in San Francisco in 1978; Bachelor’s degree in International Accounting from the University of California in 1982; MBA from Stanford's Graduate School of Business in 1992;
  • Spouse: Lena Lam (married in 2005);
  • Father to two sons.

Chris (Christopher) Larsen is listed among the world’s richest, with an estimated fortune of $4.5 billion as of late 2023. He achieved the top spot in Forbes’ list of cryptocurrency-rich businessmen in 2018, with an estimated worth of about $7.5 billion, surpassing Joseph Lubin (Ethereum) at $5 billion and Changpeng Zhao (Binance) at $1.3 billion at the time.
Chris Larsen with his family. Source: networthleaks

Chris Larsen with his family. Source: networthleaks

Chris Larsen's Pre-Ripple Career

Larsen's career began in banking after university, where he gradually progressed through the IT ranks, starting as an assistant customer service manager and eventually becoming a director of software development.Working for someone else, however, was a struggle for Chris, who was driven towards complete autonomy and continually sought ideas for his own enterprise.
He also served as an auditor at Chevron Corporation. This role took him to various countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It was during this time that scrutinizing financial reports sparked his idea of streamlining all monetary flows through a unified ledger.

In 1997, Larsen, along with his friend Janina Pavlovski, founded E-Loan, a trailblazer in the decentralized mortgage industry. They developed a platform that autonomously found housing loan financing options, cutting out middleman agents. E-Loan grew to be one of the largest companies in its field globally. By 2005, it was valued at $300 million and was acquired by Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, a major player in housing finance.

In 2005, Larsen established Prosper Marketplace, his first company, offering online peer-to-peer lending. Prosper became a prototype for P2P decentralized insurance platforms and was among the first to operate in this market segment. It quickly rose to prominence in the U.S. market, processing around $120 million in small consumer loans annually and poised to enter business lending. However, the SEC intervened, halting's operation, citing the risk posed to borrowers due to the absence of regulated financial intermediaries.

This setback led Chris Larsen to embark on his next venture, which would become his life's work.

Ripple – Larsen's Cherished Brainchild

In 2012, Larsen, together with Jed McCaleb, founded Ripple Labs. Brad Garlinghouse joined them later in 2015. The team developed RippleNet, a peer-to-peer payment system that facilitates international payments with minimal fees in real-time.

The network operates utilizing the XRP cryptocurrency , which ranked among the top five in market capitalization until it was overtaken by Solana in December 2023.

RippleNet swiftly rose to prominence as one of the premier global payment systems. To date, it has connected over 250 financial institutions across 55 countries. Weekly updates bring news of fresh collaborations with traditional finance giants.

Despite enduring legal skirmishes with the SEC, Ripple Labs has continued its foray into the financial markets, primarily focusing on banking services and money transfers. Their court victory over the Commission has opened new avenues. XRP is poised to beсome the pivotal element bridging traditional financial bodies with blockchain technology, facilitating rapid international payments.

In 2016, Chris Larsen stepped back from managing Ripple Labs to dedicate more time to his family and philanthropy. He maintained a strategic voting role and kept 17% of the company's shares. He still serves as the Executive Chairman of the company's board.
Christopher Larsen Source: Bloomberg

Christopher Larsen Source: Bloomberg

Intriguing Traits of Christopher Larsen:

  1. As a co-founder and the guiding spirit of the California Financial Privacy Coalition, he played a key role in enacting legislation that prevents the sale of confidential customer data to external advertising companies.
  2. Larsen advocates for more environmentally friendly cryptocurrency mining methods. He insists that Bitcoin should abandon the PoW algorithm. He and his wife have also established a foundation to combat climate change and promote green energy in residential settings.
  3. Known for his philanthropy, the former Ripple Labs CEO has made significant contributions, including:

Larsen's charitable endeavors are paralleled only by Vitalik Buterin, who is equally generous in his donations.