It’s time to bring an end to the rumours about Ripple’s anonymous co-founder
Perhaps in a world of self-promotion and glory-seeking, it's hard to understand why a prominent inventor chooses to take extreme measures to remain obscure.
Indeed, crypto chatrooms are awash with questions about why Arthur Britto, the elusive co-developer of $XRP (Ripple) has never been interviewed, photographed, or spoken in public forums. Rumours - or better put, conspiracies - have circulated that he does not exist.
Yet the "mystery of Arthur Britto" has a surprisingly straightforward resolution. At its essence, the answer lies in appreciating that not everyone seeks - or can handle - fame. Despite being an anomaly among his peers, Ripple Labs, the blockchain payment services firm closely linked to $XRP, has respected Britto's desire to stay out of the limelight.
Here are the facts:
There's no question that Britto is real. Alan Safahi, a former advisor to Ripple, confirmed he'd met Britto many times and told The Block: "He's superb, one of the smartest people I’ve ever met...He’s an oracle."
Ripple's communications team also confirmed Britto's true name and identity. It is unclear what his nationality is but sources ruled out that he was British.
His need for privacy is a personal issue
It's important to tread with due sensitivity when it comes to his motivations for remaining so private. Ripple's communications team explained being in management can "take its toll", hinting at potential health challenges.
"Arthur is an introvert and super private," a spokesperson added. "[He] has no desire to be a public figure due to personal reasons."
Safahi added, "He’s just in it for the technology."
While admittedly unusual to have your photo thumbnail blank, Britto wishes to avoid being recognised.
He's still associated with Ripple Labs - he did not leave
Britto has not left Ripple Labs. "We see him here quite often," Ripple's communication team told The Block. They added that Britto serves in an advisory role. He now works with yet-to-launch crypto custody start-up, Polysign, which he is rumoured to have founded.
He was an important early player in Ripple's development
The Ripple Labs' origin story remains steeped in tension given co-founder Jed McCaleb's sudden departure in 2013 and the ensuing lawsuit. There appears to be a consensus that Britto was prominent and among its three earliest members, but whether Arthur Britto founded it is disputed. One source told The Block that "Arthur did not start Ripple. Jed McCaleb did and brought in Chris and Arthur." However, an article in 2015 quoted a source saying that Britto and McCaleb "conceived of Ripple Labs together and brought in Mr. [Chris] Larsen" later.
A request from Ripple for the official origin story was not granted by the time of publication. The closest we might get is Ripple's CTO David Schwartz' declaration that the Lab's payment protocol, XRP, was a combined effort between Chris Larsen, Jed McCaleb, and Arthur Britto.
While publicity of this sort ironically draws attention to somebody who shies away from it, there is a duty to establish the facts. And to put the matter to rest.
Update: This article has been amended to clarify the thoughts of Ripple's communications team.