Whether a college education is necessary to become successful or not, this is one debate that will last forever and a day. The irony here is that the most successful and powerful people on earth positively promote education; however, they don’t have a formal educational degree themselves. It is imperative to understand what education means here. For some people, education means a degree, nevertheless, for some, it means learning, no matter where, how, or at what age. Today we have a list of people, who may have redefined the meaning of education, dropped out of college and left us the tech legacy.
9 Billionaire Dropouts Who Are Perfect Role Models
Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft
- Dropped out from – Harvard University
- Net Worth – $118.7B
Gates, the Microsoft Founder, dropped out of Harvard in his sophomore year in 1975 to concentrate on creating what would become Microsoft. Along with his childhood friend, Paul Allen, Gates co-founded Microsoft, which is worth a fortune today. The Harvard Crimson portrays him as the “Harvard’s most successful dropout.”
In the teenage years, the tech whiz already started dealing with computer networks and programming. At the age of 13, Bill wrote his first computer program which was a version of tic-tac-toe to play against the machine. After starting Microsoft, the founder continued to draft many strategic decisions for the sake of consumers. Microsoft partnered with IBM to develop certain operating systems, and later, the company launched Vista, Azure, Windows 7.
In 1986, Microsoft went public with a cost of $21 a share and made a turnover of around $61Million. In the following year, 31-year-old Gates titled with the World’s youngest-ever billionaire who is in fact, a dropout. According to Forbes World Wealthiest People List, Bill Gates held the position of Richest Person in the World, from 1995 to 2017. In 2017, Amazon’s founder surpassed him and as of November 2020, Microsoft Founder with a net worth of $118.7B, holds the title of the third wealthiest person in the World.
Steve Jobs – Founder of Apple
- School Dropped Out – Reed College
- Net Worth – $7B (At the time of death, 2011)
Steve Jobs, a born genius, was blessed with the power and intricacy of computers. Steve’s love for machines was promoted when he used to work with his father as a little boy in a family garage. There he learned certain key mantras that helped him develop Apple in that very garage and set it ahead of numerous competitors. At 12, Jobs impressed HP founder Bill Hewlett and got a summer internship offer in his company.
Steve went to Reed College and left after attending the first year at the age of 19, but, he continued to take calligraphy classes there. In 2005, Steve delivered a speech at Stanford and said – “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”
In 1976, Steve’s real venture started when he began Apple computers with his friend Steve Wozniak. This duo redefined the technological world with the initial launching of the blue box, a digital device for making long-distance calls for free. Its success boosted their motivation and gave birth to the first-ever Apple machine. They fought tooth and nail to chase several investors and later joined hands with Intel for receiving the desired funds. At the age of 25, Jobs net worth was $100 Million which featured him in the Forbes Richest People list.
In 1985, Jobs faced the biggest setback in his career. John Sculley, Pepsi executive, who was hired by Jobs, emboldened the board to oust Steve from the company. Later, Jobs launched NeXT which then merged with Apple and we got the iOS. He also developed Pixar Animation Studios which in the year 2006 merged with Walt Disney and became the most respected brand in the industry.
In 2003, the tech giant was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and batting with it he passed away at the age of 56, on October 5, 2011.
Michael Dell — Founder of Dell
- School Dropped Out – University of Texas
- Net Worth – $39.8B
Michael Dell, 55, CEO of Dell Technologies and one of the 50 richest people in the World. He started his empire at the age of 19, in the dorm room of the University of Texas. In school, Dell had developed an interest in maths and technology and during his college days, he learned and developed a substantial interest in computers. Because of his interest, he started pedaling computers by attaching disk drives and extra memory. By this job, Dell was able to earn $50000 to $80000 a month. As the business went well, Dell dropped out and doubled his efforts for the business.
After this, the numbers ballooned like crazy. In 1984, Dell earned $6 Million by sales and by the year 2000, Dell made a spot in the list of billionaires. In the initial 20 years, it became one of the most successful businesses in the World. The company climbed the ladder, leaving behind the titans like Walmart and General Electric. The success story is so motivating and inspiring that Michael Dell published the book, telling stories of his success – Direct from Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized the Industry.
Paul Gardner Allen — Co-Founder of Microsoft
- School Dropped Out – Washington State University
- Net Worth – $20.3B (At the time of his death)
Paul Allen, co-founded the World’s most important company “Microsoft”, with his school friend Bill Gates in 1976. Earlier, the company was called “Micro-soft” which was purely Allen’s idea and that is why he is also called the idea man behind Microsoft. Later on, the hyphen was removed but still, the company is known by a reminiscent name.
Of Course, Allen’s legacy has been well established and unique. In his early days of high school, he predicted that computer chips can give rise to a new industry and that is what we are using today. The technologist convinced Gates to drop college and pay full-time attention to the computer basics and business. Gardner also left Washington State University to start Microsoft. This is the reason why the billionaire Gates said – “Microsoft would never happen without Paul”
The pair designed software for Apple II and Radioshack’s TRS-80. Paul left Microsoft after serving for 8 years as he was diagnosed with Stage 1-A Hodgkin’s lymphoma and died on 15th October 2018.
Gardner was passionate about sports and therefore his legacy is known in this sector also. He owned the Seattle Seahawks football team and the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team. According to Forbes, Paul Gardner Allen was one of the richest billionaires in 2017 and used most of his wealth in philanthropy work.
Mark Zuckerberg – Founder of Facebook
- School Dropped Out – Harvard University
- Net Worth – $101.7B
Zuckerberg, a Harvard dropout, launched a million-dollar company “The Facebook” in his sophomore year of college days. In the same year, he had already built two computer programs that are CourseMatch and FaceMash. Mark had developed a reputation as a go-to software developer on the campus.
After partnering with three fellow students, he worked on the idea of creating a social networking site known as Harvard Connection which used the data from Harvard’s student networks. Soon he dropped the project and developed his own social media networking site – Facebook in the year 2004.
By the end of 2004, there were 1 million users on Facebook. Zuckerberg found Accel that invested $12.7 Million in the networking site. The tech savant denied selling his site to Yahoo and MTV networks and started working on its development and features. Now, the company has 2.70 billion monthly active users with a turnover of $101.7B.
Jan Koum — Founder of WhatsApp
- School Dropped Out – San Jose State University
- Net Worth – $10.1B
Jan Koum, founder of the most successful communication app, WhatsApp Messenger. In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a whopping $19Billion. According to Forbes, Koum has an estimated 45% stake in the company.
Jan traveled a tough journey to change his status from rags to riches. The immigrant entrepreneur had a rough upbringing which forced him to work at a grocery shop. The tech geek left his college and in 1997, joined Yahoo, as an infrastructure engineer where he met Acton, a tester at Yahoo. In September 2007, they both left the company and applied for Facebook in 2009, unfortunately, got rejected.
From the savings, Jam bought an iPhone and got the idea to work on Mobile Applications that would be the next big thing in the World. After buckling down, Koum developed a messaging app that is free of advertisements and bugs. All of this is done without any television commercial or promotional campaigns.
By the year 2016, WhatsApp Messenger became the most popular messaging application having a user base of more than 1 billion. In 2017, Koum was in the list of Forbes’ richest tech people with a net worth of $9.6Billion.
Jack Dorsey – Founder of Twitter
- School Dropped Out – The Missouri University of Science and Technology & New York University
- Net Worth – $11.7B
Jack Dorsey, a born programmer had developed an interest in computers and communication at an early age. He wrote his first program as taxi-dispatching software when he was just 15. That software was adopted by many Taxicab companies. He studied at Missouri University and then shifted to New York University but dropped out before receiving a degree to serve his passion for software.
After approaching Williams and Stone with the idea of a messaging app, Dorsey launched Twitter and posted the first message on 21st March 2006. This platform where users can send messages up to 140 characters quickly overwhelmed the fancy Social Networking Hub. In 2013, it became one of the most visited websites and also titled “the SMS of the internet.”
Dorsey also co-founded “Square”, a mobile payment venture for providing electronic payment services.
Evan Williams – Co-founder of Twitter, Founder of Blogger and Medium
- School Dropped Out – University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Net Worth – $2.4B
Evan Williams, the American Internet Entrepreneur used to assist with crop irrigation in summers. While studying in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Evan followed his interest and joined the FarmHouse International Fraternity. Williams always wanted to be an entrepreneur as soon as possible and therefore he left the college. In the mid-1990s, with the help of his father, he ran a company for a short period that provided instructional material about the World Wide Web. Soon he co-founded Pyra Labs that developed Blogger, a blog-publishing service.
Later, Google acquired Blogger, and Williams found other ventures – Odeo and Obvious Corp. He worked on Twitter which was a project of Obvious Corp Venture. In 2007, Twitter became the separate entity. In 2012, Williams co-founded Medium with an idea to encourage users to share longer posts.
Evan Spiegel – Founder of Snap Inc.
- School Dropped Out – Stanford University
- Net Worth – $10.1B
Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, developed his interest in the technology from a very young age. He belongs to a wealthy family and studied at an Ultra-exclusive school, Crossroads school for arts and science. For higher education, he attended Stanford for studying product designing. There he met future Snap CTOs Reggie Brown and Bobby Murphy. Gradually, he developed an interest in prototypes and thus took a drop to follow his passion.
In 2011, with his friends, Spiegel founded Snapchat, an image messaging and multimedia mobile application. According to Forbes, approximately 229 Million people use Snapchat each day, and this makes Spiegel enter the Billionaires club. He has also donated $154 Million in Snap Stock.