15 College Dropouts That Became Billionaires

We are all familiar with the cliché that says ‘education is the key to success’. Well, if education is the key to success, one is tempted to wonder if school is the lock. Yes, school is important; after all, the essence of its emergence is to help those that patronise it develop into successful career men and women or even successful entrepreneurs.

However, there are hundreds of success stories of prominent business comrades and billionaires, who dropped out of school to build their own empires from almost nothing. Frankly, their success stories berate the idea of school and primarily point to the growing idea that school limits creativity.

Please note that the decision to drop out of school in order to create your own empire is a very personal one. Also note that you must be set to take responsibility of such decision before dropping out. Nevertheless, if you have been waiting to be inspired in order to drop out, here is your inspiration! The following are profound examples of 15 billionaires who are school drop-outs.

15 Billionaires That Dropped out of College

15. Evan Williams – $2.3 Billion

  • Date of Birth: March 31, 1972
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $2.3 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Internet Tech. (Twitter)

Evan Williams

Williams went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he dropped out after barely two years to take part in starting up various software development establishments. Williams eventually ended up being one of the co-founders of Twitter, Odeo and a number of other tech companies. He also founded two popular internet platforms, namely: Blogger and Medium.

14. Sean Parker – $2.7 Billion

  • Date of Birth: December 3, 1979
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $2.7 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Internet Tech. (Facebook)


It’s too amazing that Sean did not even attend college but still is a successful and innovative entrepreneur. He attended the Chantilly High School, co-founded the file-sharing computer service Napster, co-founded Plaxo, Causes, Airtime and served as the first president of Facebook. Currently, his total earning is at $2.5 billion. Sean achieved all these without attending college. So lets hope you’ll do better than him with your degree.

13. Gabe Newell – $4 Billion

  • Date of Birth: November 3, 1962
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $3.5 Billion
  • Source of Wealth: Software

Gabe Newell

Gabe Newell is a Harvard dropout who first worked at Microsoft for 13 years. After gaining experience and producing several software, he co-founded Valve corporation which is a video game company.

12. Hiroshi Yamauchi – $4.2 Billion

  • Date of birth: November 7, 1927 (Died: September 19, 2013)
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $4.2 Billion
  • Source of Wealth: Video game

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Hiroshi dropped out of Waseda University to run Nintendo which was a family business founded in 1889 by his grandfather. He retired in 2005 after running the company that he transformed from a small card-making organization to a video game company in a span of 55 years. As of 2013 when he died, his wealth was about $2.1 billion. However, with Nintendo’s never-dwindling growth and financial success through the years, Hiroshi’s wealth has continued to soar even in death, bringing his net worth to an estimated $4.2 billion at the moment.

11. Ralph Lauren – $5.9 Billion

  • Date of Birth: October 14, 1939
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $5.9 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Fashion Designing

Ralph Lauren

Ralph always had a passion for fashion since he was in high school. He dropped out of Baruch College after only two years to serve in the U.S military. Once he completed his term, he decided to pursue his dreams and started the Ralph Lauren Corporation, a clothing company.

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10. Steve Jobs – $7 Billion (deceased)

  • Date of Birth: February 24, 1955 (Died: October 5, 2011)
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $7 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Media, Tech. (Apple, Disney)

Steve Jobs

The late Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed college back in 1974 to start the famous Apple. Steve started humbly from his garage and lived a low profile and less flashy life when compared to other billionaires. The mobile, computer and music industry enjoy their current status on account of Steve’s revolutionary and innovative visions. At the time of his death, Steve’s net worth was estimated at $7 billion.

9. Azim Premji – $7.2 Billion

  • Date of Birth: July 24, 1945
  • Country of Residence: India
  • Estimated Net Worth: $7.2 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Software

Azim Premji

With the death of his father, Premji decided to drop out of college to run an IT outsourcing company, Wipro. He was only 21 when he dropped out of Stanford. But surprisingly, he stressed the importance of school as he returned at the age of 50 to complete his degree.

8. Jack Dorsey – $8.4 Billion

  • Date of Birth: November 19, 1976
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $8.4 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Internet Tech. (Twitter, Square)

Jack is the CEO and founder of Square and is also a founding member of Twitter. First, he attended the Missouri University of Science and Technology and later transferred to New York University where he dropped out to start Twitter together with the other founders. At the moment, he owns 5% of Twitter’s shares and has total assets of about $2.5 billion.

7. Jan Koum – $10.2 Billion

  • Date of Birth: February 24, 1976
  • Country of Residence: Ukraine
  • Estimated Net Worth: $10.2 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Software, Internet Tech. (WhatsApp)

Jan Koum

Is WhatsApp your favorite messaging medium? If yes, appreciate Jan Koum the CEO and co-founder of the mobile messaging application which was acquired by Facebook Inc. in February 2014 for $19 Billion. Koum dropped out of San Jose State University to work for Yahoo for 9 years before becoming a tech entrepreneur.

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6. Dustin Moskovitz – $12 Billion

  • Date of Birth: May 22, 1984
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $12 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Software, Internet Tech. (Facebook)


Moskovitz was a friend and roommate to Zuckerbrg, the CEO and founder of Facebook. He was majoring in Economics at Harvard before dropping out to create Facebook, playing a major role in making it the big company it is today. He left Facebook in 2008 to co-found Asana, a software company, and is worth $12 billion at the moment.

5. Paul Allen – $20.3 Billion

  • Date of Birth: January 21, 1953 (Died: October 15, 2018)
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $20.3 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Software (Microsoft)

New Space

Paul was the co-founder of Microsoft, he and Bill Gates formed the company together in 1975. He attended the same high school with Bill at Lakeside but dropped out of the Washington State University. After dropping out of college, Allen first worked as a programmer for Honeywell and reportedly convinced Bill to drop out as well in order to create Microsoft. In addition to Microsoft, Allen founded/owned several other organisations including Seattle Seahawks, the Portland Trail Blazer, Allen institute for Brain Science, Allen Institute for Artificial intelligence, Allen Institute for Cell Science, and Stratolaunch Systems. At the time of his demise in 2018, Allen was worth $20.3 billion.

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4. Michael Dell – $37 Billion

  • Date of Birth: February 23, 1965
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $37 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Computer tech. (Dell)

Michael Dell

‘Curiosity killed the cat’ is a common proverb used to pass across warnings of the danger of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. Well, Michael Dell’s success is the perfect example of where curiosity failed to kill the cat. Michael got his first computer and promptly disassembled it just to see how it functioned. Subsequently, he dropped out to start Dell Computers back in 1984. As the chairman and CEO of the company, he has so much fortunes that pegs his worth at $37 billion at the moment.

3. Larry Ellison – $73.3 Billion

  • Date of Birth: August 17, 1944
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $73.3 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Software

Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison as listed on Forbes is the 5th billionaire of the world with a net worth of approximately $73 billion as of 2020. Larry actually dropped out of two universities; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chicago. Records reported that while Larry was working with Ampex Corporation, he was fascinated by a research on relational database design which subsequently led to him co-founding the famous software company, Oracle Corporation.

2. Mark Zuckerberg – $100.9 Billion

  • Date of Birth: May 14, 1984
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $100.9 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Internet tech., Media (Facebook)

Mark Zukerberg

The next time you poke someone on Facebook, I implore you to acknowledge the creativity of the inventor, and as well get astonished by the fact that he dropped out of school. In the year 2004, the world was introduced to what was going to be the largest social media platform – Facebook. Mark dropped out of Harvard to focus his energy on something he knew was going to storm the world. Meanwhile, I sincerely plead you stay in school and face your books if you cannot come up with a similar powerful and innovative idea.

1. Bill Gates – $115 Billion

  • Date of Birth: October 28, 1955
  • Country of Residence: United States
  • Estimated Net Worth: $115 billion
  • Source of Wealth: Software


The world’s richest man and founder of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard two years after joining the prestigious institution. Bill served as CEO of Microsoft and stepped down in 2000 to hold the position of the company’s chairperson. He also served as the chief software architect for the company and until May 2014, he was the largest individual shareholder. Bill has an estimated wealth of $82 billion. If you can beat his records, is strongly recommend you stop schooling.

We hope you enjoyed our list of college drop-outs who became billionaires. The stories of these billionaires indicate that it is possible to be acknowledged as an achiever regardless of your schooling status. All you need is a good, innovative idea and skill. With those, you can someday make the list of billionaires that dropped out of school and, we will gladly tell your story.

Here’s a quick look at the 15 college drop-outs who became billionaires:

  1. Bill Gates
  2. Mark Zuckerberg
  3. Larry Ellison
  4. Michael Dell
  5. Paul Allen
  6. Dustin Moskovitz
  7. Jan Koum
  8. Jack Dorsey
  9. Azim Premji
  10. Steve Jobs
  11. Ralph Lauren
  12. Hiroshi Yamauch
  13. Gabe Newell
  14. Sean Parker
  15. Evan Williams


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