Lifetime of Achievement: Brad Garlinghouse

Powered by adaptability and a determination to succeed, Brad Garlinghouse has made Ripple one of the most recognisable names in the fintech arena

Brad Garlinghouse undoubtedly ranks as one of the best-known and most influential fintech leaders in the world. 

In truth, this is a man who needs little introduction thanks to his impact at Ripple, the company on a mission to build breakthrough crypto solutions for a world without economic borders.

That’s without mentioning his impressive contributions to various other big names over the past couple of decades, including Yahoo!, AOL and Hightail (formerly YouSendIt), to name a few. 

What has become clear, especially in recent times, is that Garlinghouse was surely destined to make his mark on an industry that continues to shape the way our society functions, both today and for years to come. 

Destined to change the world

Born in Kansas’ state capital Topeka, Brad Garlinghouse developed an interest in technology from a young age, when his father brought home a TRS 80 computer – exposing him to the wonders of computing and programming. 

Heading off to college, Garlinghouse achieved his bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Kansas and retains a great affinity for the institution to this day. 

This includes following the fortunes and misfortunes of the Kansas Jayhawks, one of the most successful university basketball teams in US history. 

After graduating, Garlinghouse earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1997, ensuring he had a solid foundation to succeed as a professional, before making the brave move to Silicon Valley in pursuit of a career beyond the norm (at the time). 

Speaking to Kansas University’s KU College Stories site in 2016, he said: “Long before joining Ripple, I knew I wanted to be a part of something that could change the world. We’re living in an amazing time, when almost anyone can say that and mean it. 

“I never wanted to work somewhere that was focused on doing things the way they’ve always been done. I discovered that I always want to be looking for the next thing, rather than getting comfortable in what I’m doing today.”

Making a name for himself

Garlinghouse’s initial endeavours in the world of work saw him take up positions at @Home Network, a high-speed internet cable provider, and @Ventures, a venture capital firm that invested in early-stage tech companies.

Following a stint as CEO at Dialpad, he joined Yahoo! in 2003 to become SVP for the Communications, Community and Front Doors. This meant looking after the Homepage, Flickr, Yahoo! Mail, and Yahoo! Messenger divisions, all of which were enjoying a huge surge in popularity. 

It was during his tenure at Yahoo! that Garlinghouse – who was already making a name for himself – authored the ‘Peanut Butter Manifesto’, which became famous and was replicated across the industry. 

In it, he called for the organisation to focus on its core business, rather than spreading itself too thin – like peanut butter.

Garlinghouse opted for a change of scenery in 2009, moving to one of Yahoo!’s biggest competitors in the form of AOL, where he was President of Applications and Commerce.

He then served as CEO at the file-sharing site, YouSendIt, but departed in the autumn of 2014 after a disagreement with the board. Were it not for this falling out, Garlinghouse may never have made Ripple the fintech pioneer it is today.

The Ripple effect

Itching to try something new, Garlinghouse joined Ripple to become the startup’s President and COO, despite having minimal experience in the payments sector. 

Appearing on the Jay Kim Show, he later recounted that Co-founder and then-CEO Chris Larsen had wanted somebody from “outside the system” to look at things differently.  

Garlinghouse’s outsider’s perspective proved invaluable and he was officially promoted to the top job at the beginning of 2017, replacing Larsen. 

By 2019, the natural-born leader had taken Ripple to new heights, in large part thanks to a US$200m Series C funding round which included investment from Tetragon, SBI Ventures and Route 66 Ventures. 

Today, Garlinghouse is, in his own words, leading Ripple towards realising its vision of the “internet of value”, unleashing “possibilities for digital assets”. 

He is one of the fintech sector’s most outspoken advocates for crypto and blockchain, and, spearheaded by its native XRP cryptocurrency, Ripple continues to develop innovative financial products and solutions. 

Customers are using these solutions to source crypto, facilitate instant payments, empower their treasury, engage new audiences, lower capital requirements and drive new revenue.

It’s thanks to Garlinghouse and his adaptability, that Ripple has become a key player in the fintech space and looks set to stay at the forefront of this rapidly-evolving sector.

“We are all products of our experiences, good and bad,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 2013. “Sometimes you learn as much from the negative experiences as you do from the positive.”


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