9 Entrepreneur Dropouts Worth Millions

Rob Kalin, Founder of Etsy

robkalin3At the age of 25, Rob Kalin was a high-school dropout-turned-furniture designer just hoping to make a living selling his goods online. After hours of surfing the net, Kalin had an epiphany. He envisioned a community marketplace in which artisans could sell their wares and people could purchase handcrafted items online directly. With the help of two techies and $50,000 investor, Etsy went live in 2005, and become a hit immediately.

As of 2010 Etsy was valued at $300 million. Though Kalin stepped down as CEO in 2011, he is still seen today as the visionary of Etsy. Kalin had dabbled in half a dozen colleges before finally graduating from New York University with a major in the classics.

(Image via Flickr)

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter

jackdorsey1Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, a mobile payments company, dropped out of New York University and hopped between jobs before landing at Odeo,the forerunner of Twitter.

In 2008 he was named as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35 by MIT Technology Review.

Last year he was given the "Innovator of the Year Award" for technology by The Wall Street Journal.

(Image via Flickr)

Dean Kamen, Inventor of the Segway

deankamen2Inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute for two years before dropping out.

He now holds more than 80 U.S. patents, and has become famous for his Segway PT, an electric, self-balancing human transporter complete with a computer-controlled gyroscopic stabilization and control system.

He is also an illustrator for many EC Comics publications, including Mad and Weird Science.

In a morbidly ironic twist, 62-year-old millionaire and Segway Inc. owner, Jimi Heselden, died in a Segway-related accident in 2010 when he accidentally drove the electric scooter off a cliff and into a river.

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David Karp, Founder of Tumblr

davidkarp22Twenty-seven year old web developer and entrepreneur David Karp created Tumblr, the 9th-most visited site in the United States, in 2007, despite never graduating high school.

Karp had held an interest in tumbleblogs (short-form blogs) for some time, and after a year of waiting for other established blogging platforms to introduce their own tumbleblogging platform, he decided to start one of his own with engineer Marco Ament. Within two weeks of the site's induction, the service had gained 75,000 users.

As of May 20, 2013 Yahoo! announced it was to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion, with Karp remaining as CEO of the company.

(Image via Flickr)


Jack Taylor, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

enterprise22American businessman and billionaire Jack Taylor never finished college. As a youth, he enrolled in the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis in 1940, but left to join the U.S. Navy.

Once the war ended, Taylor returned to St. Louis and started a delivery service company. In 1957, he went on to develop a successful car leasing business at the Lindberg Cadillac dealership.

As the business grew, he changed the name of the company to Enterprise, later to become Enterprise Rent-A-Car, named after the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier he served on in World War II.

By 1995 the company had reached $2 billion in revenues. His son currently serves as the CEO and chairman.

(Image via Flickr)

Jerry Yang | Co-founder of Yahoo! Inc.

jerryyang1Jerry Yang, billionaire co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo! left his Stanford University PhD program to create Yahoo!.

Yang moved from Taipei, Taiwan at the age of ten to San Jose, California with his mother and brother. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science, as well as a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

While Yang studied electrical engineering at Stanford, he teamed up with friend David Filo to create an Internet website called "Jerry and Dave's Guide to the World Wide Web", which consisted of a directory of other sites. It was later renamed Yahoo!. When the site exploded, Yang and Filo realized the business' potential and both postponed their doctoral programs.

(Image via Flickr)

Matt Mullenweg, Founder of Wordpress

matt mullenwegMatt Mullenweg, an online social media entrepreneur and web developer, developed the free and open-source software WordPress, which currently powers 16 percent of the web.

Mullenweg dropped out of the University of Houston in 2004, a safe move given that he had already begun developing the beginnings of WordPress by age 20, and was being fielded with job offers from tech companies.

While he left to work for CNET in San Francisco, he left to found Automattic, the company responsible for WordPress. Wordpress gets 140 million visits a year, and all of Automattic's sites are visited by nearly half a billion visitors.

(Image via Flickr)

Arash Ferdowsi, Co-Founder of DropBox

arash2Arash Ferdowsi, an Iranian-American entrepreneur, dropped out in his last year of school at MIT to focus on his business, Dropbox.

Estimated as having a net worth of $400 million, 26-year old Ferdowsi is the CTO and co-founder of Dropbox. Ferdowsi and partner Drew Houston began Dropbox as a simple college project, which they later realized had big potential.

Dropbox gained 45 million users in under four years as a free service that allows access to your photos, docs, and videos anywhere, as well as being able to share them easily. The service advertises never having to email yourself a file again. Brilliant, but simple.

(Image via Flickr)

Daniel Ek, Founder of Spotify

daniel ekTwenty-nine year old Swedish entrepreneur Daniel Ek founded the popular music streaming service, Spotify, in 2008. Never having graduated college, he enrolled at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology but did not complete his degree.

The company is rumored to be worth $4 billion, with Ek's net worth being estimated at $310 million.

Ek created his first company when he was 14 years old in 1997. In the past he's served as CEO for Bit Torrent giant, µTorrent, which he then followed by collaborating with the co-founder of Trade Double, Martin Lorentzon, to build Spotify.

(Image via Flickr)

  • ashizuri

    I don’t think Yang qualifies as a dropout. He had HS, BS, MS degrees before he started Yahoo. :p