10 College Dropouts Who Are Huge Names in the Tech Industry
Article by George Norman
On 24 Oct 2016
Being a college dropout means very little in the tech & software world. After all, some of the biggest companies in the world were founded and are currently lead by college dropouts.

Take Uber for example, a company that made $1.5 billion in revenue last year. It was co-founded by Travis Kalanick, who dropped out of UCLA at 21.

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Here are 10 other college dropouts who made a huge name for themselves in the tech industry.

1. Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle



Larry Ellison, co-founder and former CEO of Oracle, dropped out of two colleges. He dropped out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after his second year, because his adoptive mother had died. He later attended the University of Chicago, but left after one term.

Larry Ellison’s net worth is estimated at more than $51 billion.


2. David Karp, founder and CEO of Tumblr



David Karp, who founded Tumblr and remained its CEO after Yahoo acquired it for $1.1 billion in cash, isn’t technically a college dropout. That’s because he didn’t even finish high school. He dropped out of high school at 14 because his mother suggested he should focus on computers.

David Karp’s net worth is estimated at $200 million.


3. Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp



WhatsApp, the instant messaging application that Facebook acquired for $19 billion because it knew it would eventually be used by over a billion people around the world, was created Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo. Koum dropped out of San Jose State University at 21.

Jan Koum’s net worth is estimated at about $9.7 billion.


4. Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress



WordPress, the content management system that’s used by tons of website owners, was created by Matt Mullenweg, who dropped out of the University of Houston in 2004.

Matt Mullenweg’s net worth is estimated at about $40 million.


5. Arash Ferdowsi, co-founder and CTO of Dropbox



Arash Ferdowsi (left) and Drew Houston (right) founded Dropbox in 2007, when they were students at MIT. Arash dropped out of MIT during his last year, to focus on the business.

Arash Ferdowsi’s net worth is estimated at around $400 million.


6. Daniel Ek, co-founder and CEO of Spotify



Daniel Ek, who co-founded Spotify alongside Martin Lorentzon, dropped out of the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden after eight weeks.

Daniel Ek’s net worth is estimated at $400 million.


7. Evan Williams, co-founder and former CEO of Twitter



Several people helped create Twitter: Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Noah Glass, and Evan Williams. Williams attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for a year-and-a-half, dropping out at 20 to pursue his career.

Evan Williams' net worth is estimated at more than $1.7 billion.


8. Michael Dell, founder, chairman and CEO of Dell



Michael Dell, who leads one of the largest technological corporations in the world, dropped out after his first year at the University of Texas at Austin, where he had enrolled as a pre-med student.

Michael Dell’s net worth is estimated at more than $20 billion.


9. Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook



Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in his sophomore year to focus on Facebook, the social networking website that has some 1.6 billion monthly active users. Zuckerberg initially planed to return to Harvard, but eventually dropped those plans.

Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth is estimated at more than $55 billion.


10. Bill Gates (and Paul Allen), co-founder or Microsoft



Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the co-founders of Microsoft, did not graduate college. Gates attended Harvard for 3 years before dropping out in 1975, at 20. And Paul Allen dropped out of Washington State University in his sophomore year.

The weird thing is that Gates took enough courses to graduate, but he didn’t. Oh, and it was Allen who convinced him to drop out.

Bill Gates' net worth is estimated at more than $81 billion.
Paul Allen’s net worth is estimated at more than $18 billion.


Honorable mention – Steve Jobs



The late Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College at the age of 19, after just one semester.




Tags: Larry Ellison, Oracle, David Karp, Tumblr, Jan Koum, WhatsApp, Matt Mullenweg, WordPress, Arash Ferdowsi, Dropbox, Daniel Ek, Spotify, Evan Williams, Twitter, Michael Dell, Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Microsoft, Steve Jobs, Apple
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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