Ex-AOL, Yahoo executive appointed Ripple CEO

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S.-based financial technology start-up Ripple announced on Tuesday its Chief Executive Officer Chris Larsen has decided to step down and will become the company’s executive chair.

Larsen said Brad Garlinghouse, the firm’s current chief operating officer, will become the new CEO effective Jan. 1.

San Francisco-based Ripple is a provider of blockchain-based cross-border payments technology for banks and has raised more than $90 million in funding from a whole range of investors.

Blockchain technology powers the digital currency bitcoin, enabling data sharing across a network of individual computers. It has gained immense popularity because it can record and track assets across all industries.

“I have been in fintech for 20 years and I am kind of looking forward to not having the day-to-day responsibility the CEO takes,” Larsen said in an interview with Reuters.

“I am trying to get the right balance between Ripple and spending time with my two young boys. But I couldn’t be more happy for Brad, about where we are and how Brad has gotten us here, and what he would be able to do for us going forward.”

Larsen earlier co-founded E-Loan in 1996, one of the first online mortgage lending platforms, whose business grew to a $1 billion company in terms of market value by 2000. In 2006, Larsen also co-founded Prosper Marketplace, the first U.S. peer-to-peer lending marketplace.

Garlinghouse, on the other hand, was previously the CEO of Hightail, a cloud service company that lets users send, receive, digitally sign and synchronize files. Before Hightail, he was the president of applications and commerce at AOL, and a senior vice president at Yahoo.

“We’re going to stay the course at Ripple,” Garlinghouse said in an interview. “This the appropriate time to do this because we have a lot of tailwind and momentum on our side. We’re not expecting any sharp turns one way or the other.”

But one area the company will focus would be the global payments steering group, Garlinghouse said. In September, Ripple announced the creation of the first interbank group for global payments based on distributed financial or blockchain technology.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Santander, UniCredit, Standard Chartered, Westpac Banking Corporation, and Royal Bank of Canada are the founding members of the network, known as the Global Payments Steering Group. CIBC will also join as a member of the group.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; editing by Grant McCool