Former AOL Exec Named Ripple CEO as Chris Larsen Steps Down

Distributed ledger startup Ripple has announced its current CEO will soon step down.

AccessTimeIconNov 1, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:35 p.m. UTC
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There's soon to be a new man in charge of distributed ledger startup Ripple.

Four years and almost $100m after CEO Chris Larsen joined the aspiring Swift alternative, he's handing over the reins to the company's president, Brad Garlinghouse.

Larsen positioned the appointment as part of Ripple’s overall plans to grow, but both executives stopped short of saying it was part of an more formal exit strategy.

Larsen told CoinDesk:

"We’ve got this great position and now we want to jump to the next lily pad, which is scaling."

In Larsen’s new role as executive chairman — an employee position for which he'll take a salary — he’ll continue to focus on steering the company's strategic direction. Larsen said he stepped down to spend more time with his family.

Garlinghouse, on the other hand, will immediately focus on hiring 30 new employees and adding to Ripple's list of clients that already includes Standard Chartered and Mizuho.

The changes will go into effect 1st January, 2017.

Global plans

After some early confusion over how exactly Ripple's distributed ledger technology operates independently of publicly traded permissioned blockchain, 2016 has proved a banner year for the company.

Whereas the traditional interbank infrastructure provided by Swift requires that banks wait days for their transactions to clear, Ripple's shared, distributed ledger seeks to do the job in as little as five minutes.

As a result, this June, the San Francisco-based firm announced seven financial institutions had joined as partners, including Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), Santander and UBS.

Then, earlier this month a group of global banks and the R3CEV blockchain consortium announced they had conducted tests using Ripple’s native XRP currency as a means to more quickly send cash across borders.

In total, Ripple has completed 30 bank pilots, according to a representative of the company, has 10 banks currently in commercial deal phases and its network now includes 15 of the top 50 global banks.

"That means we have 35 banks still to get," Garlinghouse told CoinDesk.

Year over year Garlinghouse says Ripple has doubled its customers. His target for the next year is to do the same.

Peanut butter

But growth to Ripple doesn't mean expanding, according to Garlinghouse. Growth means gaining deeper market penetration with the company's cross-border platform.

Prior to joining Ripple last year Garlinghouse was perhaps best known as the former president of AOL and as the author of the so-called "Peanut Butter Manifesto", an internal memo from his time at Yahoo about how important it is for companies to avoid spreading themselves too thin.

In that spirit, he said that as the new CEO of Ripple he will continue the company’s current trajectory — at least for now.

As part of that growth the company currently has 30 jobs posted, for six engineers, six sales reps, six customer success specialists and more.

The hope is that with the right hires, there may be enough peanut butter to spread around.

Garlinghouse said that if all goes according to plan, in two to three years there will "for sure" be opportunities for Ripple to enter other market segments.

Exit event

Off a total of $93m venture capital, Ripple has so far mustered a $410m valuation, according to investor analytics platform Pitchbook.

Though companies have exited for far less returns than that, the serial investor with six exits under his belt said an IPO isn't yet a part of his thought process.

Garlinghouse says the board has control over Ripple's shares and with Chris Larsen still the controlling shareholder the team has the leverage it needs to continue without an exit.

Garlinghouse concluded:

"When you’re in this position you just think about the next goal. We're trying not to think about liquidity events as a goal."

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Ripple.

Brad Garlinghouse image via Wikimedia


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