Why a Tech Pioneer's $59B Fortune May Be Fleeting

Ripple CEO Chris Larsen's riches may just be part of cryptocurrency 'hysteria,' analyst says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2018 8:04 AM CST
Fad or permanent fortune?   (Getty Images/Wavetop)

(Newser) – Chris Larsen may not be the household name that Mark Zuckerberg is, but with the amount of wealth he has (at least on paper), he may not care. Forbes notes Larsen has in his personal holdings 5.19 billion XRP tokens from his virtual-currency company, Ripple, in addition to a 17% stake in Ripple itself. That massive stash apparently paid off Thursday after XRP hit a high of $3.84, per CNBC. The New York Times reports that Larsen, Ripple's co-founder and former CEO, was briefly worth almost $60 billion thanks to the Ripple stake and XRP tokens, now the second largest virtual currency behind bitcoin. Those assets catapulted him within reach of Facebook's Zuckerberg, currently No. 4 on Forbes' richest person list with around $74 billion, and ahead of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, who's worth about $59 billion.

But what the Times calls "hysteria" behind cryptocurrency successors to bitcoin—others in play include Stellar, Cardano, and Byteball—has some money experts skeptical. "This is beyond insane," one investor says, adding: "There's absolutely nothing driving this rally except rampant FOMO [fear of missing out], misinformation, and speculation." In fact, the Times notes the Catch-22 of being loaded with non-tangible blockchain currency: If Larsen tried to cash out and exchange XRP tokens for dollars, it would probably send the value of the virtual currency down and reduce his wealth. Still, though Ripple needs a lot of stars to align to become a major currency player used by big banks, one analyst writes for Medium that he expects the company to keep doing well, since "this is crypto, and everyone in the industry is now slinging crack crypto cocaine to retail addicts." (Read more bitcoin stories.)

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