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Billionaires Who Didn't Finish College

Jyoti Babel
From early in our childhood, the importance of education is drummed into our heads, by our parents, teachers, and elders. In today's world, education is of prime importance, the lack of which can cause you huge setbacks in life.
However, there is an exception to everything, and such is the case with this maxim as well - and to prove it, here is a list of billionaires who didn't finish college, but have gone on to achieve the pinnacle of success.

Did you know?

The world's youngest college dropout billionaire is Dustin Moskovitz. He was the third employee of Facebook and is worth $12 billion today.
Do you think that education alone is the ultimate measure of success? Do you believe that a college degree is indispensable to succeed in life? If you answered yes to those questions, congratulations. You are on the way to success, albeit slowly.
Education is an important factor to achieve success, though it is not a compulsory one. There are scores of people who have made it big without any formal education. Will-power, perseverance, hard work, and dedication took the place of education, and served the purpose very well indeed.
Here is a list of people who have climbed to the very top of the ladder, with just a little, or in some cases, no education at all. They are all billionaires, and college dropouts. They proved that what matters most in the long run is not your college degree, but good talent, positive attitude, and hard work.
All these combined with a bit of luck, will keep you in good stead on the way to success. Hats off to them for daring to think different, and believe in themselves. They surely deserve every bit of the success they have achieved.

Bill Gates

Co-founder of Microsoft, and co-chairperson of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates is an American business tycoon, philanthropist, computer programmer, and investor. With an estimated fortune of around $100 billion, he is the second-richest person in the world today.
He dropped out of Harvard at the age of 19 (1975) to work on his startup company, then called Micro-Soft. Today, he remains in Microsoft as a non-executive chairman. He has consistently topped the Forbes list of world's richest people for 13 years.

Amancio Ortega

Amancio Ortega is a Spanish billionaire, and the founding chairman of the Inditex group, best known for its fashion clothing and accessories brand 'Zara'. With estimated assets of $75 billion, he is the third-richest person in the world.
Born in abject poverty, he never even saw the four walls of a school. He started as a delivery boy for a textile company. His rags-to-riches story is an inspiration for many.

Lawrence Joseph Ellison

Lawrence Joseph Ellison is the co-founder and chief executive of Oracle Corporation. With an estimated wealth of around $54.5 billion. Ellison was an intelligent student, but was inattentive. He dropped out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later from the University of Chicago.

Li Ka-shing

With an estimated net worth of $29.4 billion, Li Ka-shing is considered to be the richest person in Asia. He is a Hong Kong business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is the chairman at Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings.
Due to the untimely demise of his father, he was forced to leave school and work at a plastic company for 16 hours a day. Today, his business empire touches every facet of life in Hong Kong. Its operations are spread across 52 countries with more than 260,000 employees around the world.

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson is an American business tycoon who made his fortune in Las Vegas doing casino and real estate development. He is the chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corporation. His net worth is estimated at $29.48 billion. He dropped out of City College of New York.

Michael S. Dell

Michael Saul Dell is an American businessman, philanthropist, and author. He is the CEO and founder of Dell Inc., one of the largest PC sellers in the world. Today he is worth $27 billion. He dropped out of University of Texas at Austin to sell computers and in the process made a fortune for himself.

Paul Allen

Paul Allen is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft. He dropped out of Washington State university to work for Honeywell. He later convinced Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard to establish Microsoft. He is estimated to be worth $20.3 billion. He owns two sports teams, the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and Portland Trail Blazers (NBA).

Fran├žois Pinault

Fran├žois Pinault is a French business magnate who runs the company PPR (now known as Kering). Many well-known high-end brands like Gucci, YSL, Converse, Samsonite, etc., come under its gamut. Despite having dropped out of high school, he is estimated to be worth $7 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg

Best known as one of the founding members of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is an American computer programmer and entrepreneur. His wealth is estimated to be $82 billion. He dropped out of Harvard to develop Facebook. He was a billionaire by the age of 23, making him one of the youngest billionaires ever.

Jack C. Taylor

Jack Crawford Taylor is an American entrepreneur, businessman, and founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. He dropped out of Washington University at St. Louis to join the US Navy during World War II. His lack of education was no hindrance on his path of success. Today, his net worth is $12.8 billion.

Eike Batista

A Brazilian business tycoon who made his fortune in oil, gas, and mining, today Eike Batista has an estimated net worth of $1 billion. He went to RWTH Aachen University to study metallurgical engineering, but later dropped out. Today he chairs the Brazilian conglomerate, EBX Group.

Donald Newhouse

Despite dropping out of the Syracuse University, Donald Newhouse went on to become a billionaire. He is one of the owners of Advance Publications, with an estimated net worth of $12,78 billion.

David Geffen

David Geffen is one of the founders of DreamWorks SKG. He is known for Asylum Records (1970), Geffen Records (1980) and DGC Records(1990). He had been to University of Texas at Austin but soon dropped out. His career had a humble beginning at the mailroom of William Morris Agency, but today he is worth $7.7 billion. He is also a prominent philanthropist.

Richard Branson

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English businessman. He is the founder of the Virgin Group with more than 300 companies, including Virgin Airways. He suffered from dyslexia and hence dropped out of school at the age of 16. He was knighted in 1999 for his outstanding contributions in the field of entrepreneurship. His is estimated to be worth around $4.6 billion.

Micky Jagtiani

Micky Jagtiani is the owner of the Dubai-based retail brand, Landmark, and has an estimated net worth of $2 billion. He dropped out of an accounting college in London, and drove cabs for a living before taking over his family shop after the untimely demise of his father and brother. Today, he has expanded his business in Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Dustin Moskovitz

With an estimated worth of $12 billion, Dustin Moskovitz is the youngest self-made billionaire. He is one of the founder members of the social networking site Facebook. He went to Harvard University but dropped out after 2 years to work full-time with Facebook. In 2008, he left Facebook to co-found Asana with Justin Rosenstein.

Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani, the chairman of the Indian conglomerate, Adani Group, is an entrepreneur and a self-made billionaire. He dropped out of Gujarat University and began his career as a diamond sorter for Mahindra Brothers in Mumbai. Later, he started his own diamond trading company. From his humble beginnings he has come a long way. Today, he has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion.

David H. Murdock

David Howard Murdock is an American businessman; owner of Dole. He had a tough childhood. He dropped out of school in the 9th grade and was drafted by the US Army during World War II. Despite all odds he went to become a successful businessman. Today, he is estimated to be worth $2.4 billion.

Subhash Chandra

Subhash Chandra is often called the Media Mogul of India. He shot to fame with the launch of India's first private television channel, Zee TV, and later the first private news channel - Zee News. Today, this self-made billionaire is worth $2.4 billion. He dropped out of high school when he was 12 years old.

Richard Li

Richard Li, the son of Hong Kong's richest person, Li Ka-shing, is worth an estimated $1.9 billion. He went to Stanford University to study computer engineering, but dropped out after 3 years for personal reasons. Life hasn't been rosy for him always. To earn money he had taken shifts at McDonalds and even worked as a caddy at a local golf course. Today, he is the chairman of Hong Kong's largest telecom company, PCCW.

Gabe Newell

Gabe Logan Newell is one of the prominent names in the video games industry. He dropped out of Harvard and worked for Microsoft for 13 years. He left Microsoft to co-found Valve Corporation, a video game development and distribution company. Today, he has an estimated fortune of about $ 3.5 billion.
This was a list of some well-known billionaires who didn't finish college. On a more serious note, if you are thinking of dropping out of school, keep in mind that these people were exceptions who succeeded despite all odds. There are many talented people whose life turned out for the worse because they dropped out of college. However, it is indeed inspiring to read about these college-dropout billionaires.


This list is only for informative purpose and doesn't intend to undermine the importance of education. The author has included only the names of self-made billionaires who do not have a college degree. The net worth figures considered here are as of March 2013, unless otherwise mentioned.