$25 Million in XRP: One of Largest Crypto Gifts Ever Made to a U.S. University

Siamak Masnavi

On Thursday (March 4), San Francisco State University’s business school announced that it had received from Ripple Co-Founder Chris Larsen, his wife, and Rippleworks one of the largest crypto donations ever made to a U.S. university.

Chris Larsen was born in San Francisco, California, and got his bacherlor's degree (B.S.) in accounting and business administration in 1984 from San Francisco State University (SFSU). In 2012, he and Jed McCaleb co-founded FinTech startup OpenCoin, which got renamed to Ripple Labs a year later. In February 2018, Forbes named him "the richest person in cryptocurrency".

According to an announcement by SFSU, on Thursday evening, at a celebration held in San Francisco's Masonic Center, Universiy President Leslie E. Wong told the 400 "civic, community and University leaders" attending the event that SFSU's College of Business had received a $25 million gift from "Chris Larsen (B.S., ’84, Alum of the Year ’04), his wife Lyna Lam and Rippleworks, a nonprofit foundation launched in 2015 by Larsen and Doug Galen which supports high-growth social ventures around the world."

This gift will apparently "be largely made through the digital asset, XRP, and is believed to be the largest gift ever made in a digital asset to a university in the U.S" SFSU "plans to name the University’s College of Business the Lam Family College of Business, pending approval from the California State University Board of Trustees."

The university said that Larsen and his wife are "longtime supporters" (in fact, SFSU named him "Alum of the Year" in 2004). It also notes that this donation "will support the “Lam-Larsen Fund for Global Innovation” and two endowed chairs," and that the "focus of these funds is to support students in learning about and becoming changemakers of local and global entrepreneurial and fintech ecosystems."

Wong said:

“This groundbreaking gift will position the College of Business as an evolving, distinctly diverse and industry-relevant epicenter of business innovation and entrepreneurshi. Chris, Lyna and Rippleworks are innovators, and their gift will inspire our students to creatively and strategically approach the business and tech landscapes to become the next generation of entrepreneurs and global business leaders.”

According to the announcement on the SFSU's "University Development" website, Larsen said:

“SF State students have great potential because of their position. Most of the world is outside of this ecosystem, and they’re really trying to catch up. Being here in San Francisco gives SF State’s students amazing career opportunities. These funds are focused on guiding these students in becoming innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders, enabling them to become changemakers in business and their communities."

The  two new faculty chairs permanently endowed by the "Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam Funds for the College of Business" are the "Rippleworks Endowed Chair for Innovation & Entrepreneurship" and the "Lam-Larsen Endowed Chair in Financial Technology". which will "elevate SF State’s focus on innovation-oriented learning and professional development—such as entrepreneurship, commercial incubation, financial technologies and digital currencies."

The Rippleworks chair "will be instrumental in inspiring and guiding SF State students in pursuing innovative careers in emerging markets, entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship." 

Rippleworks Co-Founder and CEO said:

"We believe that many of the world's toughest challenges will be solved by innovative solutions led by inspiring entrepreneurs. We are proud to create the Rippleworks Chair as a direct investment in the high-potential future leaders that are in San Francisco State’s diverse community."

As for the "Lam-Larsen Endowed Chair in Financial Technology", this will "focus on research and learning at the intersection of finance, data science, and technology."


The College of Business has also received "funding to establish the Lam-Larsen Fund for Global Innovation," which will "enable SF State students, faculty, alumni and other experts to come together across disciplines to share ideas, think creatively, and learn all aspects of entrepreneurship," and will "nurture a global awareness, encourage students to identify and solve problems, and will foster exceptional business leaders who know how to 'connect the dots' in distinctive, solutions-oriented ways".

According to a report in The San Francisco Chronicle, SFSU received a donation of 56 Million XRP tokens in November 2018 from Chris, his wife, and Rippleworks, which suggests that at the time, those tokens were worth around $0.4464 each. Now, however, unfortunately, "those 56 million XRP buy 18 percent fewer dollars." Thankfully for SFSU, Chris is a very kind and generous man, and SFSU will the "full $25 million." 

Wong told The Chronicle:

"Chris, bless his soul, said, ‘Look, I’ll guarantee this.' It will transform the College of Business, without a doubt."

The report says that the university officials have acknowledged that the "process of accepting cryptocurrency is not for the faint of heart," and that "to make it happen, they’ve had to convert the digital dough into actual dough — at a pace slow enough to avoid flooding the market with millions of XRPs."