As the school year starts up again, the class of 2017 is heading off to college for the first time, and a whole crop of high-school seniors is beginning to consider where they’ll go next year – or whether they should go at all.
Some, like PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel, claim that college just isn’t worth it in the age of startups. He’s giving 20 bright young people $100,000 each to start a company instead.
Despite the fact that Thiel himself is a Stanford graduate, people who choose to follow his advice and drop out find themselves in pretty good company. Beyond Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, some of today’s most successful business people didn’t graduate from college. Here are a few that prove a college degree isn’t the only path to success.
Matt Mullenweg started WordPress, which now powers 19% of the web.
Mullenweg dropped out of the University of Houston in 2004. Even then, he was so precocious that he didn’t bother with their computer classes. At 20, he had already developed the beginnings of WordPress and was fielding job offers from tech companies. He dropped out to work for CNET in San Francisco, with a promise that he could continue developing his side project 15% of the time.
He left to found Automattic, the company behind WordPress. WordPress alone gets 140 million visits a year with a staff of just 140, and all of Automattic’s sites see nearly half a billion visitors.