Uni is optional: 5 tech leaders without a degree

By on
Uni is optional: 5 tech leaders without a degree

Already running a business, but thinking about going back to uni? From Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, here are five reasons why higher education isn't always necessary.

While degrees can certainly offer a helping hand in the professional world – Google's new CEO Sundar Pichai has three – many of the world's technology pioneers have no degrees to their name. From the founders of Microsoft to the CEO of biggest social network  in the world, these five figures didn't need an MA or a BSc to become tech pioneers.

  1. Steve Jobs

    One of the most important figures in the technology world, Steve Jobs was responsible for the success of Apple, and its instrumental role in the development of the PC. After briefly studying physics, literature, and poetry at Reed College in 1972, Steve Jobs went on to found Apple Computer Inc four years later, and launched the Apple Lisa in 1983. Forced out of his own company in 1985, Jobs spent the next few years establishing the high-end NeXT computer company, as well as founding the Pixar movie studio. In 1997 he returned to Apple, and guided the company to its most successful period yet. Worth at time of death: $11 billion

  2. Paul Allen
    Currently worth $17.5 billion, Paul Allen is most famously known for co-founding Microsoft along with Bill Gates. As well as owning the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers, Allen also set up Vulcan, a forward-thinking company created to solve the world's most challenging problems. Although he did study at Washington State University for two years, Allen famously convinced Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard before both of them founded Microsoft. Now worth: $17.5 billion
  3. Michael Dell
    Responsible for creating one of the most dominant forces in the computer industry, Michael Dell enrolled on a pre-medical course at the University of Texas, but failed to finish. While still at university, Dell began selling upgrade kits, and soon realised the huge potential of a direct-to-customer PC company. After winning contracts to supply PCs in Texas, it wasn't long before Dell dropped out and focused all his efforts on his growing business. The result? By 1992, aged 27, Dell became the youngest CEO ever in Fortune's list of the top 500 corporations. Now worth: $18.9 billion
  4. Bill Gates

    One of the most famous dropouts in history, Bill Gates stopped studying law and mathematics at Harvard to found Microsoft with Paul Allen. What followed changed the course of technology as we know it, and produced one of the most popular operating systems of all time. Currently worth a cool $79 billion, Gates now funds a number of philanthropic projects through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This year alone, the foundation has spent $22.9 million on HIV research, $12 million on Polio treatment and $868,090 on vaccine delivery. Now worth: $79.3 billion

  5. Mark Zuckerberg
    The creator of Facebook studied psychology and computer science at Harvard, but dropped out in his second year to build his then embryonic  Facebook project. Originally called “thefacebook”, the fledgling social network was only open to students from selected colleges, but soon became the global phenomenon that is today. In 2015, Facebook is no longer just a social network; it now owns key tech companies such as Oculus, Instagram and WhatsApp. What's more, the company's growth shows no signs of stopping; in Q4 last year, Facebook reported profits of £462 million – up 34% on the year before. Now worth: $34.8 billion

This article originally appeared at alphr.com

Copyright © Alphr, Dennis Publishing

Most Read Articles


What would you like to see more of on BiT?
How To's
Photo Galleries
View poll archive

Log In

  |  Forgot your password?