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10 Ultra-Successful Billionaire Who Didn't Finish College


1. Bill Gates


Bill Gates is an American businessman, investor and author. He is best known as the principal founder of the world’s largest software business, Microsoft Corporation, with his business partner Paul Allen. Bill was a voracious reader as a child, spending many hours poring over books such as the Encyclopaedia. He met Paul, who was two years his senior, in high school at Lakeside School. Bill and Paul spent much of their free time together working on programs. Bill enrolled at Harvard University in 1973. He did not have a definite study plan while he was a student at Harvard. He spent more of his time in the computer lab than in class. He dropped out of college in 1975 to pursue his business, Microsoft, with Paul. During his career at Microsoft, he held the position of chairman and CEO until stepping down as CEO in 2000.  He stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in 2014. With his wife, Bill chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation. The foundation works to save lives and improve global health. He is estimated to be worth $103.4 billion as of July 2019.

2. Mark Elliot Zuckerberg


Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of the social-networking website Facebook, which he started in his college dormitory room in 2004 with college roommates. He developed an interest in computers at an early age. When he was about 12, he used Atari BASIC programming to create a messaging program he named “Zucknet”. Together with his friends, he also created computer games just for fun. Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard University. After his sophomore year, he dropped out of college to devote himself to his new company, Facebook, full time. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife are spending $3 billion in an attempt to end, cure or manage all disease by the year 2100. He is estimated to be worth $75.1 billion as of July 2019.

3. Larry Ellison


Larry Ellison is an American businessman who co-founded software firm Oracle in 1997. He is the executive chairman and chief technology officer (CTO) of the company. He gave up the Oracle CEO role in 2014. Larry was born to an unwed Jewish mother. At the age of nine months, when he contracted pneumonia, his mother gave him to her aunt and uncle for adoption. He did not meet his biological mother again until he was 48. Larry studied at the University of Illinois, withdrawing after the second year without taking final exams because his adoptive mother had just died. In the early 1970s, he became influenced by Edgar F. Codd’s research on relational database design, which led to the formation of what became Oracle. He is estimated to be worth $69.7 billion as of July 2019.

4. Michael Saul Dell


Michael Dell is an American entrepreneur and businessman, known as the founder and CEO of Dell Inc., one of the world’s largest sellers of PCs. He became CEO of the newly-formed parent company, Dell Technologies. He started his computer business in 1984 when he was a student at the University of Texas. By the end of his freshman year, he had sold $80,000 worth of computers. At the age of 19, he dropped out of college to run his company. In 1992 (aged 27), he became the youngest CEO of a company ranked in Fortune magazine’s list of the top 500 corporations. In March 2004, he stepped down as CEO of the company but remained chairman of the board. He is estimated to be worth $37.6 billion as of July 2019.

5. Jan Koum


Jan Koum is a co-founder and was the CEO of WhatsApp, which is the biggest mobile messaging service. He is a Ukrainian-born American internet programmer. He immigrated to California from Ukraine with his mother and grandmother at the age of 16. He faced many challenges in adjusting to the new country. His mother took up babysitting and Jan himself began working as a cleaner at a grocery store to earn money. Later in 1997, he was hired by Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer. He quit school thereafter. He worked at Yahoo for nine years. In 2009 he cofounded WhatsApp along with Brian Acton. In February 2014, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook Inc. for US$19.3 billion. He is estimated to be worth $10.1 billion as of July 2019.

6. Micky Arison


Micky Arison is an Israeli-American businessman and chairman of the world’s largest cruise ship operator, Carnival Corporation. He spent 34 years as CEO of Carnivals before stepping down in 2013. He is also the owner of the NBA’s Miami Heat since 1995. His Miami Heat won the 2006, 2012 and 2013 NBA finals. When Carnival was founded, he dropped out of the University of Miami. He is estimated to be worth $8 billion as of July 2019.

7. Travis Cordell Kalanick


Travis Kalanick founded a transportation network company Uber in 2009. Before Uber, he cofounded online file-exchange service Scour and file-sharing company Red Swoosh. Travis studied computer engineering and business economics at UCLA. He dropped out of UCLA in 1998 to work on Scour full-time. Red Swoosh was sold to Akamai Technologies in 2007. Travis resigned from Uber in 2017. In March 2018, Travis announced that he would start a venture fund, 10100, focused on job growth. He is estimated to be worth $5.4 billion as of July 2019.

8. Richard Charles Nicholas Branson


Richard Branson, a high-school dropout, founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s. After the success of Virgin Group, he began his own travel company, the Voyager Group in 1980. In 1984, he started his own group of airlines, ‘Virgin Atlantic’. In 1992, The Virgin Group faced financial problems and was finally sold to THORN EMI for $1 billion. In 2004, he announced that he was going to start a new space tourism company called ‘Virgin Galactic’. In 2012, he was ranked the 4th richest citizen of the United Kingdom in the list of billionaires by Forbes Magazines. He is estimated to be worth $4 billion as of July 2019.

9. Evan Clark Williams


Evan Clark Williams is an American Internet entrepreneur who has founded Blogger, Twitter and Medium. Williams grew up working on his family's soybean and corn farm. He attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln for a year and a half. After leaving college, Williams worked at various technology jobs. He created a blogging platform Blogger, which was acquired by Google in 2003. He created Twitter in March 2006. He was President and CEO of Twitter from July 2009 to March 2010. Williams is now focused on Medium, the online publishing platform he founded in 2012. He is estimated to be worth $2.6 billion as of July 2019.

10. H. Ty Warner


Ty Warner is an American businessman, actor and toy manufacturer. He is the founder and CEO of Ty Inc. which manufactures stuffed toys. He is the creator of Beanie Babies, the plush toy fad of the 1990s. His company still sells a related Beanie Baby toy called a Beanie Boo. Ty Warner attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan but dropped out after a year. He then moved to Los Angeles to start a career in acting. After having little success as an actor, he returned to Chicago and began working for plush toymaker Dakin. He was fired by Dakin for selling his own products to establish customers. He mortgaged his home in 1986 and invested his life savings into founding Ty Inc. He has donated $100 million in cash and toys to the Children’s Hunger Fund since 2005. He is estimated to be worth $2.6 billion as of July 2019.


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