Ripple CEO draws comparison to Uber and explains the corporate strategy

  • Brad Garlinghouse used a comparison with Uber to explain Ripple’s corporate strategy.
  • According to Ripple’s CEO, the company takes a cooperative rather than a disruptive approach, but is also willing to take risks.

During the webinar “What it Takes: Inside the Best Workplaces for Innovators”, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse recently spoke about Ripple’s corporate strategy and philosophy. The statements that stood out concerned the risk the company takes to be successful. Garlinghouse noted that Ripple is not a typical Silicon Valley start-up, as it takes a collaborative approach with that of the industry:

In some ways I think what Uber did and being disruptive to the taxi industry. I mean, obviously they built an amazing business and a lot to be impressed with, but I also think there’s a way that you can build without being disruptive or being much more collaborative with an industry. That’s certainly what we focus on at Ripple. […]

I think, an innovation is alive and well in many of our partners. I’d like to think that we learn from each other as opposed to being one sided. Yes, we have a Silicon Valley kind of culture at Ripple, but I think sometimes we’re learning as much from how to innovate at scale with some of these bank partners

At the same time, the Ripple CEO also admitted that the company does take higher risks to be successful. This, according to Garlinghouse, is what sets Ripple apart from other companies that have grown from start-ups to large enterprises and are taking fewer and fewer risks over time:

And the idea there is, we want to be bold, even as we grow from being a very small startup to more than 500 employees around the world now. We want to continue to think big and take risks. And I am okay. And occasional I’ll highlight it at a company meeting, “Hey, we took this risk. It didn’t pay off, that’s okay.

To underline Ripple’s willingness to take risks, Garlinghouse gave an example. About 18 months ago, the Ripple CEO received an e-mail from an acquaintance in a development company with about 500 employees, with an “approximately $100 million” idea for a new program with universities around the world. The UBRI initiative announced in June has subsequently become a great success, despite the high risk, as Garlinghouse pointed out:

We actually decided to do this based upon his idea and committed about a hundred million dollars to this project. So to me, it’s an example of saying it, speak up if you see things that could be better, if you have ideas of what could be better. But it really is by encouraging that, you encourage that risk, we’re tolerant of the times when those risks don’t pay off, because sometimes it does pay off and it pays off big.

At the same time, Ripple’s CEO also emphasized that trust plays an important role, especially in relation to banks. The maturity of the technologies is of central importance here. Ripple has therefore also developed strategies for integrating Ripple software without endangering core systems. This was the only way that Ripple could implement partnerships with Santander or SBI in Japan.

It’s really goodpoint and It’s really good. We balance carefully. When you’re working with financial services companies like banks, it comes down to trust. When we first started it, you found the small and midsize banks and really payment companies. They were most tolerant with risk and most willing to take new chances. But even now, as we start to work with larger and larger banks, part of it is we have gotten more bulletproof in how our infrastructure, how our technologies deliver value. […]

But they have also gotten smart about how to roll these technologies out in a way that doesn’t introduce risk to their core systems. So we’ve worked with players like Santander, one of the largest banks in Europe, SBI in Japan. These are players that are introducing innovative new technologies and they need a new underlying technology like what Ripple brings to bear in order to deliver these new services.