Web Entrepreneurs with College Degrees

Editorial Assistant, Carnegie Communications

Do you have a great idea for the next big app, website, or social media network? Well, here’s an idea for you: stay in school! We can’t all be Mark Zuckerberg, i.e., drop out of Harvard, launch Facebook, and become one of the youngest self-made billionaires of all time. Although many Internet entrepreneurs have found success after quitting college—like all four of Twitter’s founders—there are far more who have stayed in school while also (or later) pursuing their ventures. It’s not a bad idea, since you’ll always have a degree to fall back on if your invention doesn’t reach Facebook-phenom status. Just take a cue from this list of founders of some of the most popular stuff on the Web; they all boast pretty impressive educational accolades!

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and computer science at Princeton University.
  • Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, graduated from Tufts University with a B.S. in computer science.
  • Both of Instagram’s founders attended Stanford University as undergraduates. Kevin Systrom earned a B.S. in management science and engineering, while Mike Krieger graduated with a degree in symbolic systems. Krieger also attended grad school at Stanford, earning an M.S. in symbolic systems focused on human-computer interaction.
  • The majority of LinkedIn’s founders are Stanford University alumni as well. Konstantin Guericke earned a B.S. in engineering, Eric Ly received a B.S. in symbolic systems, Allen Blue studied drama and English, and Reid Hoffman was awarded a degree in cognitive science. Hoffman also holds a Master of Studies in philosophy from Oxford University. The company’s fifth cofounder, Jean-Luc Valliant, earned an M.S. in computer science from the University of Marseille in France, as well as a postgraduate degree in network engineering from Télécom ParisTech.
  • All three of Pinterest’s founders had earned their bachelor’s degrees before launching the popular visual discovery tool. Ben Silbermann graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in political science; Paul Sciarra also attended Yale, earning a B.A. in philosophy; and Evan Sharp was awarded a B.A. in history from the University of Chicago. Sharp earned his Master of Architecture at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation while working on Pinterest as a side project.
  • Snapchat cofounder Bobby Murphy had graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in mathematical and computational science before he started working on the photo-messaging app. However, his friend and business partner Evan Spiegel dropped out of the school a few weeks before graduation (though he claims to have a B.S. in product design on his bio page).
  • The story of Dropbox is similar to that of Snapchat. Cofounder Drew Houston received a B.S. in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before he helped create the online file-saving service. His partner Arash Ferdowsi also studied computer science at MIT but dropped out during his last year to work with Houston. 
  • Tim Westergren, one of the three founders of Pandora Internet radio, graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in political science. Cofounder Jon Kraft also attended Stanford and holds a B.A. in human biology. Their partner Will Glaser went above and beyond, earning a triple major in computer science, mathematics, and physics from Cornell University.
  • Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A. in public communications. He was also awarded a Master of Professional Studies in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. Cofounder Naveen Selvadurai earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
  • And last but not least, the founders of Buzzfeed are also well educated. Jonah Peretti (who also cofounded The Huffington Post) graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in environmental studies. In addition, he holds an M.S. from the MIT Media Lab. Cofounder John Johnson earned a B.A. in philosophy and mathematics from St. John’s College in Maryland. He later attended Columbia University for his master’s in research methodology and quantitative methods.

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