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At one point, Chris Larsen, a Ripple co-founder who is also the largest holder of Ripple tokens, was worth more than $59 billion. While most of the virtual currencies were worth nearly nothing a year ago, many are now responsible for creating billionaires.
The virtual currency boom has gotten so heated that it is throwing the list of the world’s richest people into disarray. Consider what has happened to the founders of an upstart virtual currency known as Ripple, which has seen its value skyrocket in recent weeks.
At one point on Thursday, Chris Larsen, a Ripple co-founder who is also the largest holder of Ripple tokens, was worth more than $59 billion, according to figures from Forbes. That would have briefly vaulted Larsen ahead of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg into fifth place on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people. Other top Ripple holders would have also zoomed up that list as the value of their tokens soared more than 100% during the last week — and more than 30,000% in the last year. The boom has turned Ripple into the second largest virtual currency, within striking distance of the original behemoth, Bitcoin.
The explosion in Ripple’s value over the past month is the starkest illustration yet of how the mania around Bitcoin has spilled over into a broader universe of virtual currencies. These coins — with names like Cardano, Stellar, and Iota — are generally new twists on the Bitcoin technology, which uses a decentralized network of volunteer computers to keep a record, known as a blockchain, of all transactions. While most of these currencies were worth nearly nothing a year ago, many are now responsible for creating billionaires — albeit with rapidly fluctuating fortunes. If this is a tulip fever, the fever has spread to chrysanthemums and poppies.
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