5 Richest Tech Billionaires Who Dropped Out Of University

Quitter! Lazy! These are just a couple of the insults often hurled at university dropouts. But as this list proves,...

WhatCulture

Editorial Team

Quitter! Lazy! These are just a couple of the insults often hurled at university dropouts. But as this list proves, dropping out of university is not always due to a lack of drive, talent or ambition. The I.T industry is one area in which a university education is not always the most beneficial route to take, as the bank account of these dropouts will certainly prove…

5. Gabe Newell

Gabe Newell

Estimated worth: $1.15 billion
Dropped out of uni after: 3 years

“Stop spending so much time playing videogames, they’re a waste of time” can you remember your parents shouting this at you? Gabe Newell didn’t listen to his folks. Instead he made his fortune creating them. Newell’s innovation on the video game mod scene kick started a new generation of bedroom game creators and coders. He built Valve, a software company responsible for Counter-Strike, Half Life 2, Left 4 Dead, Portal, and the digital distribution platform, Steam.

Why did Gabe Newell drop out of uni?

Newell left university to pursue a career in I.T, in fact, Steve Ballmer (Microsoft’s head of sales at the time) talked him into pursuing his passion at Microsoft. His proficiency at coding put him at the forefront of software development, so much in fact that he was the lead developer of the first 3 versions of Windows. After 13 years at Microsoft he left for a new challenge and jumped in to the video game industry where he remains at the forefront of innovation with the wildly popular Steam platform.

4. Steve Jobs

steve jobs apple

Worth: $11billion
Dropped out of uni after: 6 months

He’s the reason why you try to swipe every screen you come across. When it comes to iconic individuals in the world of technology, they don’t come much bigger than Steve Jobs. It is arguable that no other figure in the sector has attracted the same level of renown, with many people considering the Apple founder to be a true visionary.

Why did Steve Jobs drop out of uni?

Jobs dropped out of university after 6 months. Whilst it was a huge expense for his family, he fully believed that he could make his vision of creating a user-friendly personal computer a reality. The rest, as they say, is history. Jobs’ creations have had a wide-ranging impact that transcends the technology sphere. The iPod and iTunes have revolutionised the music industry, the iPhone has led the way in the smartphone market and the iPad is doing the same in the emerging tablet sector. Unfortunately he passed away to pancreatic cancer in October 2011. Many will say that he was a true innovator that will not be forgotten.

3. Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Estimated worth: $13billion
Dropped out of uni after: 2 years

I bet you’re logged into Facebook right now (probably on multiple devices). “The Zuck” has created the most popular social media platform ever and he’s made a lot of money in the process. However, money was simply a nice bi-product of his original vision. Zuckerberg was a truly talented coder but his true innovation came in the form of his idea. By building a social network that connected everybody, no matter what age, he has made Facebook the default communication method for millions of people worldwide.

Why did Mark Zuckerberg drop out of uni?

He left Harvard after his sophomore year (2nd year at University to non-Americans) to pursue the success of Facebook (which was then known as Facemash). On May 18th 2012 Facebook went public and was valued at $100billion.

2.Michael Dell

Michael Dell

Estimated worth: $15.9billion
Dropped out of uni after: 2 years

Admittedly, Dell is probably the least technically able out of the bunch in terms of programming skill; however, Dell was able to see the potential of bringing the personal computer to the masses. By the age of 24 he was named the “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Inc. Magazine. In 2000 he officially became a billionaire and by 2001 Dell was officially the world’s largest PC maker.

Why did Michael Dell drop out of uni?

Dell saw computers and his eyes flashed up with dollar signs. He first began selling computers from his dorm room at Harvard University;doing so quickly became a full time occupation and he had to leave in order to expand the burgeoning company.

1. Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Estimated worth: $72 billion
Dropped out of uni after: 3 years

The man responsible for the BSOD (and Windows, the Xbox, Word, Excel etc). Gates wrote his first computer program aged 13. By the time he was 20 he had founded Microsoft. If you were to ask people to name one figure from the IT industry it’s likely the majority would choose him.

Why did Bill Gates drop out of uni?

He enrolled at Harvard University, butdropped out in his 3rd year in order to dedicate all of his time to Microsoft. Gates is now more renowned for being one of the wealthiest people on the face of the planet. Despite heavy competition from another billionaire drop-out (and his range of shiny iThings) Microsoft remains the world’s largest software producer and its Windows operating system is used by millions of computers across the world.

In his lifetime he has donated $36,854,000,000 to charity – around half of his overall worth.

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Keep your options open

Life throws opportunities your way which won’t wait around for 4 years until you’ve completed a degree. University is not the be all and end all when it comes to gaining qualifications for a career. For these guys university probably wasn’t the best career path. To increase your chance of employment there are more forward thinking and affordable ways to gain qualifications for your dream job such as an IT training course from Computeach.

The IT industry is only set to continue growing, so take some advice from the #1 person on this list:

“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” – Bill Gates