Gates and Zuckerberg aren't the only dropouts who became billionaires

·5-min read
Bill Gates (left) and Marck Zuckerberg are both Harvard dropouts. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)
Bill Gates (left) and Marck Zuckerberg are both Harvard dropouts. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

SINGAPORE — Mark Twain once famously remarked, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education", and in the 21st century, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Larry Page and other wealthy self-made billionaires reinforced that sentiment by dropping out of college and founding billion-dollar companies. 

Life is a process of learning, and organised education is imperative to an individual's overall growth and progress. Educational qualifications give individuals credibility in the real world and open up doors of employment and means to earn money.

But it's probably not for everyone. The world's richest self-made billionaires are in fact college dropouts. This doesn't endorse the idea that everyone must follow the same path, because these individuals dropped out of Ivy League colleges. 

While their success cannot directly be attributed to their dropping out of school or college, it cannot also be attributed to their enrolment in these institutions. Nonetheless, it's interesting to check out the 'ultimate drop-out list' based on their current estimated net worth.

A graphic showing a list of billionaires who dropped out of university. (Source: edubirdie.com)
10 richest invididuals who did not complete this education. (Source: edubirdie.com)

1. Bill Gates - Estimated Net Worth: US$149 billion

Gates didn't drop out of Harvard on a whim. The world's most successful dropout took a calculated decision to drop out, not once but twice, from the same university to focus on his flourishing software company Microsoft. The dropping-out was certainly worth it with Microsoft growing to become one of the world's most valuable companies - currently worth more than US$300 billion.

2. Mark Zuckerberg - Estimated Net Worth: US$129 billion 

Zuckerberg quit Harvard in 2005 to focus on growing Facebook, which was at the time not yet known as Facebook (As of 29 October, 2021 Facebook has been rebranded as Meta). He started the social media platform while studying at the esteemed college.

3. Larry Page - Estimated Net Worth: US$117 billion 

While Google co-founder Larry Page actually graduated university, he failed to complete his studies for a PhD, which earns him a spot on the 'dropouts' list. Alphabet Inc is estimated to be worth more than US$220 billion, so he's definitely not regretting skipping out on that PhD.

4. Larry Ellison - Estimated Net Worth: US$101 billion 

Oracle founder Ellison dropped out of the University of Illinois. He withdrew without attending the final exams of his sophomore year due to the death of his adoptive mother. Ellison later attended University of Chicago but didn't graduate from there either. However, this is where he first encountered computer design through which he went on to make billions.

5. Amancio Ortega - Estimated Net Worth: US$74.7 billion 

Spanish retail magnate Amancio Ortega dropped out of school at age 14. Destiny had bigger plans for him. Thirteen years after he dropped out of school he opened his first Zara store. The fashion company grew exponentially making Ortega Spain's richest man.

6. Michael Dell - Estimated Net Worth: US$49 billion 

Michael Dell initially enrolled in medical school. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
Michael Dell initially enrolled in medical school. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Michael Dell was 19 when he dropped out of the University of Texas and founded the technology company Dell in the 1980s. An inherent businessman, Dell only enrolled in pre-med at the university at the behest of his parents. But once he realised he had the knack of making money, there was no point wasting any more time trying to be a doctor.

7. Li Ka-shing - Estimated Net Worth: US$34 billion 

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing was forced to leave school early at fifteen following his father’s death. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Bobby Yip)
Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing was forced to leave school early at fifteen following his father’s death. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

While living as refugees from the Sino-Japanese war, Hong Kong business magnate and founder of Cheung Kong Group, Li Ka-shing, was forced to leave school at 15 after his father’s untimely death. 

He found a job in a plastics-trading company and later went on to start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries in 1950. He then branched out into real estate investment and his company was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972. A true beacon of hope for the less fortunate.

8. Dustin Moskovitz - Estimated Net Worth: US$20.9 billion

A second co-founder of Facebook, Dustin Moskovitz, also dropped out of Harvard along with roommate Zuckerberg. While Moskowitz quit Facebook and founded Asana in 2008, he still owns a 2.34 per cent stake in the company. He was declared the youngest billionaire in history by Forbes in In 2011.

9. Jack Dorsey - Estimated Net Worth: US$13.7 billion 

Jack Dorsey dropped out of the Missouri University of Science and Technology to pursue building Twitter.  (PHOTO: MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Dorsey dropped out of the Missouri University of Science and Technology to pursue building Twitter. (PHOTO: MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Twitter founder Dorsey dropped out of the Missouri University of Science and Technology to give his burgeoning social media platform his full attention. More than 330 million active users turned him into a multi-billionaire.

10. Jan Koum - Estimated Net Worth: US$13.2 billion

The founder and CEO of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, dropped out of San Jose University at the age of 21 in 1997 when he started working for Yahoo. He then went on to create WhatsApp which would later be acquired by Facebook for US$19 billion in 2014. He personally earned US$6.8 billion from this sale.

Top 10 universities with the most valuable dropouts

Further interesting findings of this report reveal that three universities — Harvard, University of Michigan, and University of Illinois - account for the most valuable dropouts. 

At a glance, here are the top 10 universities with the world's most valuable dropouts in the world.

Graphic showing universities that account for the most valuable dropouts. (Source: edubirdie.com)
Top 10 universities with the most valuable dropouts. (Source: edubirdie.com)

More finance stories:

Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting