For the record, I never went to a better school because nobody ever told me that I could.
My high school graduation rate was somewhere around 50%, and when the guidance counselors found out that I got a scholarship to the University of Tennessee, they pretty much made a plaque to commemorate the success and then moved on to the other kids.
It's a problem I'd like to work on in the next couple of years.
However, while I'm opining, I might add that I could be the exception that proves the rule.
All three of my cofounders were Ivy educated, and a heavy proportion of our early investors and advisors were either connections from their social network or people who they met at the various Ivy networking functions.
I'm really not sure what to say about it. It's just how the world works. People like to help people that they know, and when you go to an Ivy League school it just so happens that the people you share a dorm room with are going to be in a much better position to help you than my freshman year roommates at UT.
The UT alumni Association, bless their hearts, can't seem to see any purpose for contacting alumni except for donations and to organize football watching parties.
My most successful friends from back home are lawyers, doctors, and small business owners. My cofounders' most successful friends from back home are venture capitalists, Stanford professors, and finance types.
This was at a state school in Indiana, so maybe just midwest guidance counselors are bad, but it's still troubling to me.
There's a lot. I suspect question comes from status anxiety. I don't really think it matters.
Depends on your perspective. If it's mere "status", then no it doesn't matter. Everyone has Buddha nature, etc., etc.
But from the perspective of "does privilege matter?" you'll get an entirely different answer, which is why people in tech are paying a lot more attention to questions like this. A very, very narrow slice of the population has any possibility of becoming a founder at all, much less of an ultra-high valuation tech startup. That slice is far from random, it encodes a lot of history we're not too proud of, and it is not just a star awarded for merit.
If you're reading this and this word "privilege" doesn't make sense in context, it's time to do some homework. There's a lot being written on the 'net about this now, but I'll throw this out as random current starting point:
It's not that going to some particular school or even a set of them (Ivy or no) matters per se. The effects of privilege exist on a continuum, and tend to accumulate over time. In that article I linked, the filmmaker had fairly extraordinary privilege via a long accumulation of access, education, peer mindset, parental support, and resources. But that's perhaps an extreme example. A lesser example: just the fact that a university student was even able to consider college as a life path is also a manifestation of privilege. For the most part, it points to an accumulation of parental and peer support over the student's life. E.g. her parents valued school and encouraged schoolwork, maybe tried to get her into a better school. She had peer support for life-paths including notions of education, career, "bettering oneself", etc. Peer support is especially interesting, as it also subsumes a lot of class issues.
Memes matter, and speaking probabilistically, kids whose peers see no paths to "success" in life can expect to have a hard time finding it themselves. We've likely all seen tales of hugely successful people who rose from modest backgrounds. That's the old story. The new one, the one we're just starting to tell, is about the enormous waste of potential from all those who didn't make it.
There was a great cartoon that the farnam street brain food blog sent out which illustrates this quite well.
I think 99% of people on HN understand exactly what you mean by privilege here, even if they don't agree with its implications. But I would ask you to consider that telling people to "do some homework" reflects a certain privilege that liberals have in certain circles. In particular, the privilege that goes with not having one's views challenged (again, in certain circles), and therefore assuming that it is your job to educate everyone else. I certainly don't go around telling people to "do some homework" if they haven't heard of the welfare theorems of economics, even if it would be very useful for them to know it.
In my opinion, what he did was completely appropriate, not condescending, and helpful and I wish you wouldn't have just blindly classified the action as a liberal tendency.
How about Stuart Butterfield (Slack), he went to University of Victoria in Canada.
Here is the unicorn list according to Crunchbase
go through the co-founders, I think you'll find only a small percentage went to prep schools or Ivy Leagues.
"[...] Also in 1975, Ken Thompson took a sabbatical from Bell Labs and came to Berkeley as a visiting professor. He helped to install Version 6 Unix and started working on a Pascal implementation for the system. Graduate students Chuck Haley and Bill Joy improved Thompson's Pascal and implemented an improved text editor, ex. Other universities became interested in the software at Berkeley, and so in 1977 Joy started compiling the first Berkeley Software Distribution (1BSD), which was released on March 9, 1978. BSD was an add-on to Version 6 Unix rather than a complete operating system in its own right. Some thirty copies were sent out."
I don't think that in 1975 Berkeley was all that bad for future computer scientists. Seemed like a pretty good place to be actually.
Same with University of Illinois, where Marc Andreesen helped create Mosaic and launch the consumer internet.
I suspect most universities can tie themselves to some modern massive success.
I had five pegged off the top of my head, plus the obvious answer of "Run down the list of foreign-born founders you know." I'll elide naming them to avoid even the appearance of suggesting there is something magic about particular universities: all of their companies speak for themselves.
Is learning for the sake of curiosity now a complete waste of time? I've never spent a single minute building a company, so how many of those minutes are a waste of time?
If it's completely orthogonal, it is a waste of time because that's time you could use doing/learning something that does contribute.
Jan Koum, CEO/Founder of Whatsapp - San Jose State
Aaron Levie, CEO/Founder of Box - USC
Suhail Doshi, CEO/Founder of Mixpanel (almost a unicorn) - Arizona State
Logan Green, CEO of Lyft - UC Santa Barbara
But really, this is the wrong question. Even if there were 0 examples of what you asked for, it doesn't mean one can't come along.
It's something to bear in mind. I mean, of essays written and so forth - if you're say, black - they don't apply to you. This is obvious - how many black unicorn co-founders are there? I mean you rarely see a black programmer in the Bay area, never mind a unicorn co-founder. Most essays about joining startups, starting startups etc. are for the class, age group etc. of people who already joined or started startups. There's no warning labels that these things are not possible for certain people, but those people should understand that.
I mean it goes to all kinds of things, even what languages to program in. People ask why things like Lisp never made it big - well, most people don't have the time to devote to it. I mean even the idea of making something original a few people love, and putting making money off - it's a wealthy person's prerogative. People not born to the manor have to make money now, no matter how smart or hard working they are, and the amount of time they can devote to long-term or even medium-term goals is limited. This is how those who control the forces of production have set things up, and it's important for you to know it. People born on third base like to pat themselves on the back about how brilliant they are. They used to say they were put into their position by God, but in the modern world they have changed that to saying they have better DNA.
YC alums (majority) & Founders with VC = Ivy Leaguers
David Karp is another great example I suppose. He made Tumblr, and doesn't even have a high school diploma.
This post represents its slide into a vapid gossip rag. Another reddit. Why does it matter if a founder comes from an Ivy League school? Does that prevent you from founding a company? People who end up going to Ivy League schools represents a self-selecting bunch of go-getters, that's it. Successful founders don't ask these sorts of questions, they just build.
It is interesting though to see a group of people who convinced that they are on the progressive side of history admit that much of their success has been achieved through the connections they made at their elite schools and through their parents, which seems like the way business has always been done. But what do I know, I'm just a middle class guy who went to a state school.
There have been some efforts to rectify that through quotas, though from anecdotes of colleagues it sounds like it hasn't really been solved (e.g. no proper support system leads to disproportionate dropout rates)
tbh it is not never ending. From a non wary eye one can celebrate the bansals for building a pvt business valued over 10billion $ but seriously, there is no way they can match that when they become public, there is something called as revenue that they need to generate regularly! Just by offering crazy discounts they might be able to boast that they sold 100000000 MotoG's in one day, but what they don't tell is that they are solely functioning on the money investors are throwing at them also they have around 2Rs loss per 1Re revenue
So just because they built a seemingly large enterprise doesn't build their legacy, there are many many such examples of the so called unicorns who collapsed just because they couldn't gain traction after they hype they generated, take a look at homejoy, they were earning some real heat in their market until they realized they were solving the wrong problem or solving them in the wrong way, so it folded, it won't be long until paytm/flipkart/snapdeal etc etc who have a huge customer acquisition cost fold because their CA >>>> CR customer retention. The sole reason people buy from Flipkart is because it is cheap on flipkart, if the same item is cheaper somewhere else, they buy it from somewhere else, I really don't understand how this is any indication of being in the right business or a measure of being a strong business?
Amazon is the sole major ecommerce provider in US and for 30 long years they didn't become profitable despite being the sole provider, only now did they become profitable, compare that with the complicated scene of Indian ecommerce where there are way more providers and the CoD woes plus marketing costs and the ridiculous "coupons". Some people I know actually think paytm makes money, it is silly, they don't! They are just making people habituated to using and spending their hard earned money on paytm in hopes that they will be regular customers which they won't because the sole premise that people buy from these companies is because of the discounts they provide and nothing else, so when the dust settles down and they can't provide any more discounts, they'll fold.
Warren Buffet and Bill Gates may be considered good for founding a fledgling enterprise because they earn money.
That being said when this bubble will burst a new age will dawn upon their ashes, I think we really need this lesson to make more prudent investors for the better future India!
Wikipedia on Andy Grove: "He escaped from Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20 and moved to the United States where he finished his education."
Marc Andreessen grew up in Wisconsin and went to the University of Illinois.
I co-founded Open Market (a unicorn in tech Bubble 1.0). I grew up in West Virginia in a trailer with no indoor plumbing & wood heat. Our high school graduated 99 and about 10 of us went on to college. (I did go to an ivy league school, but I strongly suspect it was on quota because WV was so underrepresented.)