Digital asset pioneer and alum Chris Larsen returns to campus for student talk

Author: SF State Strategic Marketing and Communications
February 15, 2023
Chris Larsen speaks at LFCOB event on February 14, 2023
Photo Credit: Paul Asper

The co-founder of Ripple and Prosper shared his insights on cryptocurrencies, sustainability and entrepreneurship

San Francisco State University alumnus Chris Larsen (B.S., ’84) made a special visit to campus Tuesday, Feb. 14, to take questions from Business students. Held at the University’s J. Paul Leonard Library, the talk covered such topics as cryptocurrencies, climate change, staying motivated and the importance of taking risks...and even failing.

“If you fail in America, particularly here in the Bay Area, it’s like a badge of honor. It makes you stronger for the next time. ... If you fail with honor and grace and treating people right, people remember that,” Larsen told students. “Failing with honor in the Bay Area — you’re stronger next time.”

More than 60 Finance seniors from San Francisco State’s Lam Family College of Business attended the event.

“Chris Larsen, as an SF State alumni, a successful executive and an angel investor focusing on sustainability and cryptocurrency, was able to share with students firsthand his outlook for the crypto ecosystem, his perspectives on sustainability issues, his entrepreneurial spirit and his advice for a successful career path — all of which are hard to get elsewhere,” said Assistant Professor of Finance Xue Snow Han, who helped organize the visit.

When asked for his advice on launching a new business venture, Larsen told students the first thing to look for is an opportunity to make a difference.

“When you start a business, look for a problem that you can solve,” Larsen said. “The basic idea of any business is product, market, fit, right? If you’re not solving a problem, then what’s the point? And that might sound obvious, but as you guys probably have seen, there are so many technology companies that come up with a shiny new thing. They don’t really know what they’re solving. And lots of bad things happen from that.”

Larsen co-founded online mortgage lender E-Loan in 1996, and later helped launch Ripple Labs and other cutting-edge technology and finance ventures. He and his wife Lyna Lam, whose two sisters and several other family members attended SF State, have been stalwart supporters of the University since 2001. In April 2019, SF State announced the donation of a historic $25 million gift from Larsen, Lam and the Rippleworks Foundation to the College of Business, establishing the Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam Funds for the College of Business. In honor of this longtime support, the California State University announced that SF State’s College of Business had been renamed the Lam Family College of Business.

Learn more about SF State’s Lam Family College of Business.

(This story was originally published on the San Francisco State University website.)