SAN FRANCISCO — A tech entrepreneur and his wife have made a very Silicon Valley donation to his San Francisco alma mater — $25 million, mostly in cryptocurrency.
The gift from Chris Larsen, founder of cryptocurrency company Ripple, and his wife Lyna Lam, to San Francisco State University is already giving officials an education in digital financial services.
Venesia Thompson-Ramsay, interim vice president for university advancement, said Friday the November donation came in as about 56 million XRP — one of thousands of digital-only currencies.
Its value has fluctuated since then. Larsen, who donated $3 million in cash, has guaranteed his alma mater he will make up the difference until the school has the promised $25 million.
"This was a learning process for all of us because we never had to deal with any cryptocurrency before," Thompson-Ramsay said. "But this will be the norm in 15, 20 years and this gift is allowing us to be part of this cutting-edge, new economy."
Because of financial regulations, Thompson-Ramsay said the university is slowly liquidating the digital money. So far, it has $7.5 million in its bank account from cryptocurrency exchanges.
The donation will pay for an endowed chair in financial technology and another in entrepreneurship and fund the Lam-Larsen Fund for Global Innovation, which will support students studying cryptocurrency and other digital financial services
Larsen graduated from the College of Business. His sisters-in-law and several other relatives also attended the university.
His San Francisco-based company last year announced plans to donate $50 million to 17 universities around the world to further the study of digital finances.
SF State said it 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.