Chris Larsen 101: A Visionary Tech Entrepreneur
Zatrun Published at January 30, 2024

In the fast-paced world of technology entrepreneurship, Chris Larsen has left an indelible mark. As a visionary business executive and angel investor, he co-founded numerous Silicon Valley startups that have reshaped the landscape of financial technology. has ventured into the depths of Chris Larsen’s career, uncovering his journey through innovation, privacy advocacy, and educational initiatives.

Revolutionizing FinTech: The Story of Chris Larsen

Born in 1960 in San Francisco, California, Chris Larsen embarked on a path that would lead him to become a pioneering force in the world of technology startups. After earning a B.S. in international business and accounting from San Francisco State University in 1984, he honed his financial skills working at Chevron, conducting audits across the globe. His thirst for knowledge and innovation drove him to further his education, and in 1991, he graduated with an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Discovering Blockchain: The Ripple Effect

Larsen’s journey in the tech industry commenced with a significant milestone. In the early 1990s, he joined a mortgage lender in Palo Alto, California, and it was here that he would sow the seeds of his entrepreneurial spirit. Alongside his colleague Janina Pawlowski, Larsen ventured into the mortgage business, but their focus soon shifted to the development of a groundbreaking mortgage lending website.

By 1996, this endeavor led to the creation of the E-Loan website, one of the first online mortgage lenders in the United States. This platform allowed borrowers to search and apply for loans directly, eliminating the need for brokers and their associated fees. E-Loan expanded its services to include home equity and car loans. Under Larsen’s leadership, it even became the first company to provide consumers’ FICO credit scores freely.

In the late ’90s, E-Loan filed for an initial public offering and went public in June 1999. By 2000, the company’s market value reached an estimated $1 billion, with Chris Larsen serving as both CEO and chairman. His strategic decisions and consumer-centric approach played a pivotal role in E-Loan’s growth and success.

Advocating for Financial Privacy and Education

Larsen’s impact extended beyond the corporate realm. He described himself as “radically pro-consumer” and took a keen interest in advocating for financial privacy. In 2001, he co-founded Californians for Privacy Now, supporting legislation that required consumers to opt in before financial service companies could share or sell personal information.

In 2005, Chris Larsen embarked on a new venture by co-founding Prosper Marketplace, where he served as CEO. Prosper operated as an online auction marketplace, with lenders and borrowers determining loan rates through an innovative Dutch auction-style system. Over the years, Prosper flourished under Larsen’s leadership, facilitating significant peer-to-peer loans and receiving accolades for its innovation in the industry.

Larsen’s passion for revolutionizing financial technology didn’t stop there. In 2012, he co-founded OpenCoin, which later became Ripple Labs, Inc. The company developed Ripple, a payment protocol designed to enable instant and direct money transfers between parties, circumventing traditional banking systems’ fees and wait times. This technology could exchange various forms of currency, from gold to airline miles.

Throughout his journey, Chris Larsen remained an influential presence, sharing his insights at industry events and contributing articles to publications like American Banker. He also dedicated himself to education and privacy advocacy. Larsen’s impact is not just limited to his professional accomplishments; it’s also seen in his commitment to supporting educational initiatives and privacy causes.

Chris Larsen’s journey is a testament to the ever-evolving world of tech entrepreneurship, marked by groundbreaking innovations and a steadfast commitment to consumer interests. His story continues to inspire the next generation of tech visionaries and privacy advocates.

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