Ripple Labs is honored and thrilled to have a new COO. His name is Brad Garlinghouse, a Yahoo alum and Silicon Valley veteran who currently serves on the board of directors of Ancestry.com and Animoto. The Harvard Business School graduate is also a Kansas Jayhawks fan.
If you’ve heard of Brad, it’s likely for his infamous Yahoo memo, leaked to the Wall Street Journal, aptly titled, the Peanut Butter Manifesto, a critique of how thinly spread the company was at the time like, you guessed it, peanut butter.
It’s the kind of fiery and bold leadership that could, as we all hope, take Ripple Labs to the next level. So let’s all give Brad a warm welcome to the team.
How did you end up at Ripple Labs?
There’s not that many times in your life to be part of something that will put a little dent in the universe, going by the Steve Jobs-ism. This is that kind of company—by changing not just the way financial institutions work, but—if you imagine how the Internet of Value plays out— we can really change the way the world works.
I also think about my time at @Home Network in the ‘90s where the collection of smart people was truly inspiring. It’s a rare event to find that density of talent in a small group. As I interviewed here, it became clear that Ripple Labs was on the same level. I feel like I’m the dumbest guy in the room for every meeting. It’s a privilege to work with people who are so brilliant.
VP of Product Asheesh Birla and Brad
And lastly, what pushed me over the edge was Chris Larsen. Chris is a repeat, successful entrepreneur. He’s very humble about his success over the years. He has nothing to prove anymore so whatever he does is because he truly believes in it.
Chris and I are kind of like yin and yang. We’re different kinds of leaders—but in ways that will complement each other nicely.
So how do you see your role as COO?
When we talk about “Internet of Value,” the possibilities stretch past every horizon. Stefan [Thomas, CTO] was talking about this 10-year vision in terms of value movement—like with how you might use micropayments to move cars out of your way when you’re sitting in a traffic jam. That’s almost science fiction.
My part is to work with the team on the 10-month vision, map a clear plan to get there, and then make sure we get there.
Brad and CEO and co-founder Chris Larsen
With a technology like Ripple, we can pursue a lot of paths, but that likely won’t make us a successful business. If you try to do a lot of things, you typically won’t be good at a lot of them. Let’s do a few things really, really well.
Amazon started as a bookseller. They built a model around selling books. And then they said we’re going to do electronics. I think the same thing applies here. If we’re going to have a chance at the 10-year vision, we’ve gotta make sure the 10-month vision takes hold first.
Given that, can you elaborate on your initial initiatives as COO?
I only have two. The first is helping to foster a successful culture. I put a lot of weight on a company’s values. A lot of the stuff I identified in the Peanut Butter Manifesto was just a symptom of a broken culture. Too many people were not working that hard. And we were getting our asses kicked.
So I think the culture of an organization is critical to its success. Every person at a company is a reflection of the culture of that company.
Yahoo! lost its way in being an entrepreneurial, risk-taking, and aggressive company. They started to define product life cycles in years, not months or days. And you had Google pushing stuff out in days and weeks. Is it a surprise we lost? So my goal at Ripple Labs is to cultivate a culture of continuous progress.
The second part is really just to learn, to intimately respect how far Ripple Labs has already come. Good leaders would say that when you start a new job, don’t make any decisions in the first 60 to 90 days. You listen, listen, listen. I have no problem being patient because of my conviction that Ripple Labs is on the cusp of taking the Internet of Value to the next level. To be a part of that is truly amazing.