Chris Larsen co-founded Ripple in 2012 to facilitate international payments for banks using blockchain technology. Previously, Larsen served the company as its CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Larsen stepped down as Ripple CEO in December 2016 but remains executive chairman. Prior to Ripple, he co-founded online mortgage lender e-Loan in 1996 and Prosper Marketplace, a peer-to-peer lender, in 2005.
Larsen serves at the Board and Advisory levels at numerous companies and organizations including Betable, CreditKarma, and Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
Larsen attended San Francisco State University and earned a B.S. in Accounting and Finance in 1984.
He graduated with an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1991.
Before Ripple Labs
In 1996, Larsen founded E-Loan, oneline mortgage lender, with his colleague Janina Pawlowski. They saw the internet as a way to circumvent agent commissions and other fees.
In 1997, the E-Loan website became accessible to the public and having success as one of the first online mortgage lenders in the United States. The website allows borrowers to search and shop for loans directly, without the fees charged by brokers and sales agents.
In 1998, Larsen and Pawlowski were in talks with Intuit over a $130 million buyout. Forbes wrote:
"Pawlowski and Larsen, who together held a 40% stake and had placed 20% more in an employee stock plan, would each walk away with $10 million in cash and $16 million in Intuit stock."
In March 1999, E-Loan filed for an initial public offering, and it went public in June 1999.
In February 2000, E-Loan's market value was estimated at around $1 billion, with Larsen serving as both CEO and Chairman. During his tenure, E-Loan became the first company to freely provide consumers' FICO credit scores.
In 2005, Larsen stepped down as CEO and remained Chairman until E-Loan was sold to Banco Popular.
In 2005, Larsen and John Witchel co-founded Prosper Marketplace and Larsen served as CEO. Prosper Marketplace was an online auction marketplace with lenders and borrowers ultimately determining loan rates.
In 2008, Prosper ran into regulatory opposition from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as current loan regulations were focused on traditional banks, not technology startups. Prosper filed its first prospectus with the SEC, changing its business model to use pre-set rates based on a formula evaluating each prospective borrower's credit risk.
In 2012, Larsen announced that he would be resigning from his role as CEO, though he remained Chairman of the company.
With Ripple Labs
In 2001, a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Jackie Speier proposed a requirement for consumers to opt in before financial services companies could share or sell personal information such as bank balances, phone numbers, and social security numbers. While the bill had public support, it was initially defeated by pro-business legislators. In response, Larsen co-founded the coalition Californians for Privacy Now, helping fund the project with $1 million of his own money. Larsen spearheaded the collection of 600,000 signatures in support of Speier's bill, which was almost double the required amount to issue a ballot to state voters. The signatures, combined with a lobbying campaign by Consumer Watchdog throughout 2002, led to major financial firms and legislators withdrawing their opposition, and the bill passed in August 2003. Speier acknowledged Larsen's influence on the ruling, stating "without Chris Larsen, California's financial privacy law, which sets the standard for the rest of the nation, would never have become a reality."