Ripple's XRP hits an all-time high, sending cofounder's wealth soaring

  • XRP, a cryptocurrency by Ripple, reached new highs on Thursday.
  • The digital tokens have risen astronomically since last year, making its cofounder a multi-millionaire, provided he could sell his stake.
  • It’s important to distinguish the value to XRP from the value of its controlling company, Ripple.

XRP, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, hit an all time high of $US3.317 per unit just before 8am Thursday.

The huge jump in value – up more than 1300% since December – has made multimillionaires out of the lucky few who own massive amounts of the cryptocurrency.

Chris Larsen, who cofounded Ripple Labs (now just known as Ripple) in 2012, owns 5.19 billion XRP, or 13% of the total XRP in circulation, the company told Business Insider on Tuesday. At Thursday’s exchange rate, that stake is worth $US16 billion – provided he could find a way to sell any or all of his holdings.

Some crypto fanatics on Twitter have said Larsen could be the richest man in the world, even ahead of Bill Gates. None of the calculations could be confirmed by Business Insider. Still, the tweets have gained traction with hundreds of retweets.

Larsen, who could not be reached for comment, also owns a 17% stake in Ripple, the company behind XRP, the company confirmed Tuesday. The company has raised $US93.6 million in funding over nine rounds to date, according to CrunchBase.

“It would be helpful to think of Ripple as a corporation,” Ripple’s vice president of product, Asheesh Birla, told Business Insider on Wednesday. “We make software products and we sell them to banks, payment providers, like MoneyGram just as an example, and then corporates. XRP ledger is a standalone decentralized product, and the primary use-cases are around digital assets.”

XRP currently has a market cap of $US143 billion, making it the second-largest digital currency behind bitcoin. The decentralized ledger for XRP was created and is maintained by Ripple, which is also holding 54 billion of the currency in escrow to “provide predictability about XRP supply,” it said last month.

XRP is up 16.91% Thursday and is currently trading at 3.1839, according to Markets Insider data.

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