The worst thing about April Fools’ Day is reading the statements of serious business people and wondering if they can be taken seriously. Yesterday introduced a rich vein of crypto comedy, from our own announcement of Justin Sun’s Nobel Nomination to the proclamation of an IEO on Dogecoin.
But the biggest joke of all was arguably on Quora, in the form of an assertion so hilarious that Stephen Colbert threw up his hands, wailing that comedy was now complete, and went to work in the White House Press Office.
In a question-and-answer session unwisely dated April 1st, David Schwartz emphasized that XRP is “absolutely not” centralized around Ripple Labs, describing the token as a “decentralized asset.”
“XRP is an independent digital asset,” Schwartz riffed, before delivering another favorite one liner: “The XRP Ledger is open source technology with a robust community of developers, so if Ripple were to vanish, XRP and the XRP Ledger will remain.”
Like all good humor, this one needs requires a bit of context. As Schwartz correctly pointed out, XRP would certainly continue trading, even if the company which owns most of it were to disappear.
But the token’s price would also collapse, in the absence of the ledger’s most important developing body–a key distinction between a decentralized asset and the C-word.
Unfortunately for David Schwartz, this is one punchline that we’ve heard before. Ripple Labs has been distancing itself from XRP ever since the company realized that its relationship to the token looks suspiciously like that of an issuer.
The comedy routine continued with a Carlinesque accounting of the history of Ripple Labs, and the happy accident by which the company came into possession of the vast majority of XRP tokens.
“I created XRP and the XRP Ledger with Jed McCaleb and Arthur Britto as a better system for sending value in early 2011,” Schwartz continued, deadpanning his way to comedy gold. He continued:
“From there, we decided that our next move would be to form a private company that could build products and services on top of this technology and work with the broader community. Thus we joined forces with Chris Larsen to found Ripple in 2012, originally under the name NewCoin and we agreed to gift 80 percent of our XRP to the company.”
Gifts come in many shapes and guises – Charles II of England generously donated the Moroccan town of Tangier to his two year-old wife (yes, you read that correctly) back in 1640 – but that’s small potatoes compared to the value of 80% of the XRP ledger… which was named the Ripple ledger, back on September 17th, 2012.
Right now, that gift is worth about $11.3 billion, give or take a few million. Better than socks for Christmas, anyway.
The context here is quite subtle, so this routine may take some explaining—like the literary references in a piece of modern fiction. Preston Byrne explained it with aplomb in a now-famous piece from September 2018, but newer readers might not remember a time when Ripple owned its relationship to the XRP asset, regarding itself as an issuer rather than an unusually lucky hodler.
Ultimately, Schwartz’s routine ended with a classic case of mistaken identities: Ripple is unrelated to XRP, they just happen to have shared the same name for nearly a decade. “[I]t seems the remnants of the old naming conventions have caused confusion for those trying to research our history.” Schwartz concluded. “I hope this helps to clarify and make up for our poor name planning 8 years ago!”
In a crypto market that’s full of unintentional comedians, Schwartz deserves a lot of respect for his impeccable delivery, even if the material’s getting a bit old.
Maybe next time he can try being funny on purpose.
The author has investments in XRP, which is mentioned in this article.