A commonwealth of school dropouts


Reader discretion: if you can’t think outside the box, this may not be a good story to read.

The computer industry is very forgiving and truly democratic. This may be the reason it has a bountiful stock of school dropouts who are billionaires.

The world’s richest person, Bill Gates is a Harvard school dropout. His net worth is $81 billion. The closest that William Gates III has ever got to a university graduation was in 2007 when Harvard honored him with a degree and made a keynote speech.


The late Steve jobs, the man who revolutionized the computer, music and mobile industries left Reeds College to start apple in his adoptive father’s garage with another whizkid Steve Wozniak. By the time he passed on, the tech versatile man was worth $6.5 billion.

And as he would say being the richest man in the cemetery didn’t matter to him but going to bed at night saying “we’ve done something wonderful”.

Did you use Facebook today? That is a gift from another school dropout, Mark Zuckerberg. The lad dropped out of Harvard in second year to focus on running Facebook. His pocket is in excess of $34 billion heavy.


WhatsApp is magical and god-sent. You know who created it? Yet another school dropout a maths and computer science major, Jan Koun, dropped of San Jose State University. The man bagged in $6.8 billion from WhatsApp’s sale to Facebook.

Larry Ellison dropped out of UIUC in sophomore year after his adoptive mother died. The next semester, he enrolled at University of Chicago but dropped out again. He went on to cofound Software Development Labs which later morphed into Oracle. This man who is very rude to university graduates has $51 billion to show for his efforts.

Do you want more evidence of proof ? Michael Dell was a freshman at university of Texas when he turned his rom into sales office for IBM’s excess inventory. He dropped out from Biology programme to pursue a dream in what excited him; computers. Dell Computers made it into the Fortune 500 as way back as 1992.

Jack Dorsey went to Missouri University of Science and Technology but dropped out to start Twitter. Currently, he owns 5% of the company’s stocks.

India’s richest tech tycoon, Azim Premji dropped out at Stafford University at the age of 21 after the sudden death of his father and went back home to run the family business, Wipro. After he had made all the money, Premji returned to Stafford at 50 and completed his degree; he had gotten tired of being touted as a school dropout by unscrupulous journalists.

The list of billionaire tech school dropouts is bottomless; Dustin Moskovitz (Zuckerberg’s roommate who says that being part of founding of Facebook was the dumbest luck in the world) and Gabe Newell (who brags that all he learnt from Harvard was how to drink beer while doing a headstand in the snow)

And I forgot to include in that list Horoshi Yamauchi of Nintendo, Evans Williams of Twitter and the tech serial entrepreneur Sean Parker, the one who created Napster. What is the philosophy in this story? It is the question: Do you really need a college degree to succeed? By the way, billionaire investor, Peter Thiel, is willing to pay $100,000 for kids to drop out of school to become a Steve Jobs. He calls it “stopping out of school”.

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