90+ College Dropout Billionaires that didn’t Complete their Studies

How often have you been told that the route to success is to work had, stay in school and graduate with good grades, apply for and get a high paying job with security in a large corporate organisation. You possibly heard that a number of times from your parents while growing up, but according to a new study featured in Business Insider by Nobel-laureate and UChicago professor, James Heckman, the study reveals that preschool actually offers a higher value than college and that the value of one’s early childhood education is a better indicator of the level of one’s success later in life. But on the contrary, emphasis has always been on college enrolment.

However, a lot of entrepreneurs never really went to school but they became very successful, which brings us to the second question: Do you really need a good degree to become successful in life? Let’s take a look at some of these Entrepreneurs that became very wealthy but either dropped out of school or never went to school at all.

Billionaires / Entrepreneurs that didn’t go to College

S. Daniel Abraham. This self-made American billionaire is well-known for his introduction of the Slim-Fast line of diet products in the late 1970s. Abraham is a WWII veteran and the founder of the Center for Middle East Peace in Washington, D.C. but did not attend college.

Sean Parker, Billionaire founding president of Facebook, he was not interested in school and never made it to college.

Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, a billionaire oilman that only stopped at fifth grade education.

Nevaldo Rocha, billionaire founder of the Guararapes Confeccoes never attended high school.

Diane Hendricks, billionaire co-founder of ABC Supply never attended college.

Heidi Horten, a billionaire that never attended college, inherited her wealth when her husband died.

Alain Bouchard, another billionaire co-founder of Alimentation Couche-Tard convenience store chain who never attended college.

Edmond Safra, billionaire philanthropist and a high school dropout.

Tom Anderson, is the co-founder of MySpace who dropped out of high school.

Dhirubhai Ambani, Indian billionaire businessman who dropped out of high school.

Lynsi Torres, billionaire owner of In-N-Out Burger that did not attend college.

Do Won Chang, billionaire founder of Forever 21 retail chain that never attended any college.

Jin Sook Chang, billionaire co-founder of Forever 21 retail chain that never attended any college. She is the wife of Do Won Chang.

Andrew Carnegie, is one of the first US mega-billionaires, an industrialist, philanthropist and elementary school dropout.

Jack Kent Cooke, billionaire owner of Washington Redskins football team, a media mogul that dropped out of high school.

Dave Thomas, billionaire founder of Wendy’s dropped out of high school.

Heinz-Georg Baus, founder of the German home-improvement retail chain Bauhaus AG is a German billionaire that opened his first home improvement store after becoming a carpenter.

Brad Kelley, billionaire founder of Commonwealth Brands cigarettes that never attended college.

Billionaire College Dropouts that Didn’t Get a Degree

Richard Branson – Richard Branson is a British Entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group. He dropped out at the age of 16 and launched his first successful business venture, Student Magazine. He is the face of Virgin brand, one of the respectable brands in the world with its 400 companies. His companies include Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Megastore, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Money, just to name a few.

Steve Jobs, billionaire dropout and co-founder of Apple Computers and Pixar Animation. Steve Jobs was given up at birth. He dropped out of Reed College after six months, got fired from Apple, spent sometime in India before returning back to the Valley. He later became the CEO of Apple, a position he held till his illness and death.

Larry Page, billionaire co-founder of Google that dropped out of Stanford Ph.D. program but never returned unlike, Sergey.

Jack Dorsey, Billionaire founder & CEO of Twitter, co-founder and CEO of Square is a college dropout.

Roman Abramovich. The 5th richest person in Russia and the 50th richest person in the world with an estimated fortune of U.S.$14.6 billion, according to the 2012 Forbes, this Russian billionaire dropped out of college, he initially enrolled at the Moscow State Auto Transport Institute before quitting from academics to go into business.

Paul Allen is a college dropout billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, owner of Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, founder of Xiant software, Paul dropped out of the University of Washington to work for Honeywell before moving on to startup Microsoft with Bill Gates.

Sergey Brin, billionaire co-founder of Google who dropped out of Stanford Ph.D. to start Google in 1998. Sergey eventually finished the Ph.D. program, so although he was at one time a dropout, he’s no longer considered as one.

Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. A dropout from the University of Chicago and University of Illinois.

Sam Goi, billionaire owner of Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing is a college dropout who left school to work in his father’s grocery store.

John D. Rockefeller Sr., billionaire college dropout and founder of Standard Oil is the first recorded billionaire that dropped out of high school two years before graduation.

H. Wayne Huizenga, billionaire owner of Miami Dolphins and founder of WMX garbage company, dropped out of Calvin College after three semesters. He eventually started business in 1962 with a used garbage truck.

Xavier Niel, internet billionaire, software programmer, chairman of Free Mobile and Kima Ventures without a college degree.

Bill Gates, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, investor, programmer, philanthropist and one of the richest men in the world is a Harvard University dropout.

Leandro Rizzuto, billionaire founder of Conair that dropped out of college to set up Conair with only a $100 investment.

Stewart Rahr graduated from New York University but later dropped out of law school in 1975.

David Geffen, billionaire co-founder of DreamWorks and founder of Geffen Records is a dropout from the University of Texas at Austin after his first year.

Alan Gerry, a college dropout billionaire, cable TV executive and philanthropist who started his cable business with $1,500 in 1956.

Kjell Inge Rokke, billionaire businessman with no college degree.

Kenneth Hendricks, billionaire co-founder of ABC Supply is a college dropout.

David Murdock, billionaire college dropout is a real estate investor and chairman of Dole Foods.

Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal, Founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors and SolarCity, Engineer and entrepreneur. He enrolled in a PhD program at Stanford but dropped out after just two days. “I find universities a very slow place to learn things.” he noted.

Richard Heckmann, billionaire investor and founder of Heckmann Corporation. attended college in Hawaii but did not graduate. He eventually attended the Harvard Business School small-company management program.

Dustin Moskovitz, billionaire college dropout and co-founder of Facebook social network.

Billy Joe (Red) McCombs, billionaire real estate investor and founder of Clear Channel media empire, left school to set up a car dealership business.

Stanley Ho, the King of Gambling is a college dropout billionaire.

Harold Hamm, another billionaire college dropout that later took college classes but never graduated.

Thomas Haffa, billionaire German media mogul is also a college dropout.

Craig McCaw, billionaire college dropout and founder of McCaw Cellular.

Philip Green, British billionaire retail mogul dropped out of school to start his first business with a £20,000 loan, importing jeans from the Far East to sell to retailers in London.

David Green, billionaire founder of Hobby Lobby started the Hobby Lobby chain with only $600 loan.

J. Paul Getty, the billionaire oilman did not graduate from University of Southern California, Berkley, nor Oxford University.

Henry Ford, billionaire founder of Ford Motor Company.

Robert Maxwell, billionaire publisher and college dropout.

Henry Ford II, CEO of Ford Motor Company dropped out of Yale University.

Edgar Bronfman Jr., heir to the Seagram liquor fortune and CEO of Warner music group was a college dropout.

Timonthy Blixseth, billionaire founder of Yellowstone Club who made his first fortune as a timberland investor.

Harry Macklowe, billionaire real estate developer, left school to become a real estate broker.

Manoj Bhargava, billionaire founder of 5-Hour Energy who dropped out of Princeton University to become a Monk in India. He later discovered and developed a formula that made him rich.

Patrizio Bertelli, Italian billionaire co-founder of Prada fashion house that dropped of engineering school.

Tom Love, University of Oklahoma dropout, billionaire founder of Love’s Travel Stops.

Michael Rubin, billionaire founder of GSI Commerce, an e-commerce company and Kynetic.

Eike Batista, Brazilian business magnate who made his billions in mining and oil and gas exploration. He is the chairman of EBX group. Eike Studied metallurgy at the University of Aachen, Germany before dropping out of school.

Bill Bartman, another billionaire businessman and author who is a college dropout.

Joe Lewis, another Billionaire college dropout.

David Filo, billionaire co-founder of yahoo that dropped out of Stanford University PhD program to start-up Yahoo!

Mike Lazaridis, billionaire founder of the Blackberry maker Research in Motion.

Tilman Fertitta, billionaire owner of Golden Nugget casinos and Landry’s restaurant. A dropout from the Texas Tech University and the University of Houston.

Israel Englander, billionaire hedge fund manager, Millennium Partners that dropped out to start trading at the floor of American Sock Exchange.

John Edson, billionaire leisure craft manufacturer and a college dropout from the University of Washington.

Ronald Baron, is the billionaire money manager and founder of Baron Capital, an investment management firm with a market value of $16 billion. In 2007, Baron paid $103 million for a house in East Hampton, New York which is the most ever paid for a residential property at that time. He dropped out of George Washington University law school to pursue his career on Wall Street.

Barry Diller, billionaire college dropout, Internet maven, Hollywood mogul, chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp which is the holding company for websites like Ask.com, Evite, LendingTree.com, Ticketmaster, CitySearch. He attended high school but dropped out of University of California Los Angeles.

Richard Desmond, billionaire publisher and college dropout.

Richard DeVos, billionaire co-founder of Amway (now known as Alticor), another college dropout.

Ralph Lauren, billionaire fashion designer and founder of Polo. Lauren left business school to design ties for Beau Brummel.

Steve Ballmer, billionaire chief Executive of Microsoft since 2000. Steve actually graduated from college but dropped out of the Stanford MBA program to join Microsoft.

Michael Dell, billionaire founder of Dell Computers, one of wealthiest Americans.

Kirk Kerkorian, billionaire owner of MGM movie studio, founder of Trans World Airlines, investor and Casino operator, dropped out of school to pursue a career in boxing.

Bruce Kovner, billionaire founder of Caxton Associates and chairman of Julliard, Kovner dropped out of a Ph.D. economics program at Harvard to drive a taxi in New York City.

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Inc. is an American businesswoman and founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. Mary Kay did not obtain a college degree but she successfully created a brand that is well-known and well-respected throughout the world.

Sheldon Adelson is a billionaire college dropout casino owner, Chairman and Chief Executive of Las Vegas sands with estimated net worth of over $24 billion. Adelson attended City College of New York, but dropped out.

Roman Abramovich, the 5th richest person in Russia and the 50th richest person in the world with an estimated fortune of U.S.$14.6 billion, according to the 2012 Forbes. This Russian billionaire dropped out of college. He initially enrolled at the Moscow State Auto Transport Institute before quitting from academics to go into business.

Ingvar Kamprad, college dropout billionaire founder of IKEA, one of the richest men in the world.

Li Ka-Shing, another dropout billionaire, Ka-Shing left school at the age of 12 to work in a plastics factory after his father’s death.

Ronald Burkle, billionaire college dropout supermarket owner and investor.

John Paul DeJoria, billionaire founder of Patron Spirits Tequilla, Gustin Energy, DeJoria Diamonds, and other companies.

Binod Chaudhary, Nepal’s first billionaire who happens to be a college dropout, used to skip school to help his family.

John Catsimatidis, founder of Red Apple Super markets, billionaire oilman and real estate magnate who happens to be a college dropout that left school to help a friend save his family’s supermarket business.

Subhash Chandra, billionaire college dropout and founder of Zee World satellite television channel, left school to join his family trade.

James H. Clark, billionaire co-founder of Netscape and founder of Silicon Graphics. Clark dropped out of high school at the age of 17 and joined the navy but later went back to take night classes and eventually obtained an MSc.

Alfred Taubman, billionaire real estate investor that dropped out of the University of Michigan. He pledged a donation of $56 million to the University of Michigan in 2012.

Theodore Waitt, billionaire founder of Gateway Computers dropped out of the University to start Gateway with his elder brother one semester short.

Dennis Albaugh, is the billionaire founder of Albaugh Inc., a company that makes pesticides. He earned a 2-year agriculture business degree from Des Moines Community College, however he did not continue to a 4 year degree.

Ted Turner, billionaire founder of CNN and TBS was suspended twice and then expelled in his fourth year. Firstly for having a girl in his room; he doesn’t remember the second reason.

Isaac Tshuva, billionaire industrialist and builder.

Jack Crawford Taylor, billionaire founder of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the man who owns a million cars dropped out of Washington University, sold cars after the war before he started Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

Steven Spielberg, billionaire movie producer and director, co-founder of DreamWorks was actually rejected by the best film schools. He dropped out of Cal State Long Beach but later received a degree in 2002.

Warren Buffett, billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway that dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania after two years although he later got back to get his Bachelor’s degree and MBA.

Walter Shorenstein, billionaire real estate investor that dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania.

Ty Warner is a savvy but private businessman. He is the sole owner, CEO, and Chairman of Ty Inc. which made $700 million in a single year with the Beanie Babies craze without spending money on advertising! He has since expanded to include Ty Girlz dolls, directly competing with Bratz dolls.

Gautam Adani, a commodities Indian self-made billionaire and chairman of Adani Group dropped out of college.

That these people made it without obtaining a college degree does not mean that most people can do without a college degree. If you have the opportunity of getting a degree, please do as you never know when you might need it.

Fadamana U
Fadamana U
Fadamana has built up professional writing and editing experience over the years in report and technical articles, informational and creative content across various topic specialties. Outside work, I like to binge on new movies.


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