20 Billionaires Who Dropped Out of College

Did you know that some of the world’s most valuable companies are owned by billionaires who dropped out of college? Facebook, Microsoft, and Oracle are examples of these corporations. Many of the billionaires on this list are self-made, meaning that they built their businesses from scratch.

Although not on this list, Larry Page and Sergey Brin also suspended their Ph.D. studies at Stanford University in order to concentrate on a company they had just started, Google. Some billionaires like David Murdock and Li Ka-Shing grew up in poverty and never even made it to college.

So, what did these people do after dropping out of college in order to become billionaires? Read on to find out.

1. Mark Zuckerberg

Net Worth: $72.8 B

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg is one of the billionaires who dropped out of college. Zuckerberg is the 15th wealthiest person in the world right now. In 2002 the billionaire joined Harvard to study psychology and computer science. While at Harvard, Zuckerberg developed a program named CourseMatch that helped students make class decisions based on the choices of other students as well as form study groups.

He also developed another program called Facemash which let students choose the best-looking student from a choice of photos. In early 2004, he began developing another program to help students match photos with their names which he called Thefacebook which was later renamed Facebook.

He then dropped out during his sophomore year to concentrate on Facebook. In 2017, he received an honorary degree from Harvard.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth

2. Michael Dell

Net Worth: $56.5 B

Country: United States

Known for: Dell Computers

Michael Dell dropped out of the University of Texas during his freshman year. He was 19 years old and was studying to be a doctor. After joining college, Dell started selling computers from his dorm room. After making $80,000 by the end of his freshman year, he dropped out to concentrate on his business.

He went on to register it as a company called PC’s Limited which was later renamed Dell Computers. In 1992, aged 27, he became the youngest chief executive officer of a company ranked in Fortune magazine’s list of the top 500 firms.

3. Bill Gates

Net Worth: $131.1 B

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of Microsoft

Bill Gates is one of the most famous billionaires who dropped out of college. He’s also famous for being the world’s richest man for several years until 2017 when he was overtaken by Jeff Bezos.

The billionaire joined Harvard in 1973 to study law and dropped out two years later to start a software company now known as Microsoft. His parents supported him after seeing how much he wanted to develop his own company.

Today, Gates is the 4th richest person in the world.

Related: Bill Gates Net Worth

4. Larry Ellison

Net Worth: $104.8 B

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of Oracle

Larry Ellison founded Oracle in 1977 despite not having a college degree. After attending South Shore High School in Chicago, Ellison joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign as a premed student. He dropped out during his sophomore year. He then attended the University of Chicago to study physics and mathematics where he only spent one term and didn’t take any exams.

The Oracle CTO would then work at Ampex before creating Oracle in 1977 together with two partners and a $2000 investment.

5. Richard Branson

Net Worth: $4.9 B

Country: United Kingdom

Known for: Founder of Virgin Group

Richard Branson always wanted to become an entrepreneur even from a young age. At the age of 16, Branson, who was a poor performer in school dropped out of high school. During his last day in school, his headmaster told him that he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. His parents still supported him, however.

After ditching school, he tried to sell budgerigars and Christmas trees in London but failed. He then launched a magazine called Student, which was his first successful business venture.

Today Branson is a billionaire and has built a business empire that bears the brand name Virgin. He’s the 14th richest person in the United Kingdom.

6. Ted Turner

Net Worth: $2.3 B

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of CNN


Turner was expelled from Brown University for having a female student in his dormitory room. He then became the general manager of the Macron, Georgia branch of Turner Advertising Company, his father’s business. His father later committed suicide and Ted took charge. He turned the business into a global corporation after becoming the CEO and president of the firm.

In 1978 he founded CNN, the first 24-hour cable news channel. The billionaire is ranked at #1342 on the list of the world’s richest people by Forbes. He’s the second-largest individual landowner in the United States with about 2 million acres of land across the country.

7. Li Ka-Shing

Net Worth: $34.6 B

Country: Hong Kong

Known for: Cheung Kong Industries

Li was forced to drop out of high school at the age of 15 after the death of his father. At this time, Li and his family were refugees in Hong Kong after fleeing the Sino-Japanese war in 1940. The billionaire then began working in a plastics trading company before starting his own plastics company, Cheung Kong Industries with $6500 worth of savings in 1950. He was 21 at this time.

The company thrived fast and later became a property investment company. Today it’s one of the largest property developers in Hong Kong.

8. Barry Diller

Net Worth: $4.4 B

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of Fox

Barry Diller is one of the billionaires who dropped out of college. He’s the founder of Fox and USA Broadcasting. The billionaire got his first job in the mailroom at William Morris talent agency after dropping out of the University of California.

He launched the Fox network while working as CEO of 20th Century Fox. Barry is one of the world’s richest people today. He’s currently ranked the 650th wealthiest individual in the world.

Barry is also the founder of internet and media conglomerate IAC.

9. Giorgio Armani

Net Worth: $7.2 B

Country: Italy

Known for: Founder of Armani

Armani is an Italian fashion designer and the 3rd wealthiest man in Italy. Three years after joining the University of Milan to study Medicine, he dropped out. He then joined the army and later quit to become a fashion designer.

Giorgio started by being a window dresser at a Milan-based department store in 1957 and later founded his own fashion design company called Armani in 1975. The company has today diversified into sports, music, and luxury hotels.

The billionaire owns the Armani Hotel in Dubai which occupies the bottom 39 floors of the Burj Khalifa building. He’s also the world’s 2nd wealthiest openly LGBT individual.

Also Read: Who Owns Google?

10. David Geffen

Net Worth: $10.1 B

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of DreamWorks


Geffen is the founder of the music labels Geffen Records, Asylum Records, and DGC Records. He also founded DreamWorks in 1994. DreamWorks is a film distribution company owned by Indian-based Reliance Entertainment.

The billionaire attended the University of Texas at Austin before dropping out after a semester. He later joined Brooklyn College before again dropping out. He then worked in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency (WMA) before starting a record label, Asylum Records in 1971.

David Geffen is one of the world’s LGBT billionaires.

11. Ralph Lauren

Net Worth: $6.8 B

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of Ralph Lauren

Ranked #361 on the list of the world’s richest people by Forbes, is 82-year-old billionaire Ralph Lauren. He’s a dropout of the City University of New York City college where he studied business for 2 years. He worked in the US Army for 2 years after leaving college and later quit to work as a salesman for Beau Brummell, a tie manufacturer.

In 1967 he founded his own clothing company, Ralph Lauren which released its first line of menswear known as Polo in 1968.

12. Paul Allen (Deceased)

Net Worth: $20.3 B (2018)

Country: United States

Known for: Cofounder of Microsoft

He dropped out of Washington State University during his sophomore year to work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston. He then convinced his friend, Bill Gates, to drop out of Harvard and when Gates dropped out, they founded Microsoft in 1975.

Paul Allen died on October 15, 2018, from septic shock related to cancer.

13. Micky Arison

Net Worth: $6.1 B

Country: United States

Known for: Chairman of Carnival Corporation

Micky is a dropout of the University of Miami. He dropped out to work as a sales rep for Carnival Corporation, a cruise operator that had just been founded by his father, Ted Arison. The company which now has over 100 vessels, is the largest cruise ship operator in the world. Micky stepped down as the CEO of the corporation in 2013 after leading it for 34 years.

His father founded the company with only one ship and Micky Arison helped the fleet grow to more than 100 ships. Micky is the owner of the Miami Heat of the NBA.

14. Donald Newhouse

Net Worth: $14.4 B

Country: United States

Known for: President of Advance Publications

Donald Newhouse is the president of Advance Publications and one of the billionaires who dropped out of college. He’s however not entirely self-made because he inherited the company he now owns from his father. Advance Publications owns Bright House Networks, magazines such as The New Yorker, and newspapers such as The Plain Dealer.

In 2016 the billionaire received an honorary degree from Syracuse University, more than 60 years after dropping out to join his father’s business.

15. Ty Warner                               

Net Worth: $4.4 B

Country: United States

Known for: Ty Inc.


He’s the founder and owner of Ty inc. which designs and manufactures toys. He dropped out of Kalamazoo College in Michigan. He then tried a career in acting but did not succeed. Warner later became a salesman for plush toy maker Dakin. He would later get fired for selling his own toys to Dakin’s customers. After losing his job the billionaire began his own company, Ty Inc. to make his own toys.

Today Warner owns several hotels, including the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, the Las Ventanas al Paraiso Resort in Mexico, and the Kona Village resort in Hawaii. He also owns property across the country as well as golf courses.

16. Steve Jobs

Net Worth: n/a

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of Apple

Steve Jobs is well known for founding Apple together with Steve Wozniak. He’s one of the billionaires who dropped out of college. Steve joined Reed College in 1972 and left the same year. He worked as a technician at Atari, Inc before founding Apple in 1976. He’s also the founder of Pixar and NeXT.

Jobs served as the CEO of Apple until 2011. He died on October 5 the same year after a respiratory arrest related to a pancreatic tumor.

Also Read: Meet the Billionaire that owns Tik Tok

17. Craig McCaw

Net Worth: $2.2B

Country: United States

Known for: Wireless Service Companies

Craig is the founder of McCaw Cellular and Clearwire. He dropped out of Stanford University during his senior year to join his father’s business.

18. David Murdock

Net Worth: $2.3B

Country: United States

Known for: Chairman of Dole, Castle & Cooke

The self-made billionaire dropped out of high school in the 9th grade. He owns the companies Dole Food Company, Castle & Cooke, and Pacific Clay.

He also owns several commercial and residential properties in California, Hawaii, and Arizona.

19. Billy Joe (Red) McCombs

Net Worth: $1.7 B

Country: United States

Known for: Car dealerships

Billy Joe is one of the billionaires who dropped out of college (the University of Texas at Austin). However, he’s one of the richest self-made billionaires in the world today. The 94-year-old has interests in real estate, cars, oil, as well as sports. Billy is the founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group based in San Antonio, Texas. He’s also the co-founder of radio giant Clear Channel.

The billionaire is ranked the 1744th wealthiest individual globally. He’s the former owner of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL and Denver Nuggets of the NBA.

20. John Paul DeJoria

Net Worth: $2.8B

Country: United States

Known for: Founder of the Patron Spirits Company

John Paul is the co-founder of the tequila maker Patron Spirits Company as well as the Paul Mitchell line of hair products. He’s also a co-founder of the House of Blues night club chain and has investments in several companies such as Pyrat Rum, Sun King Solar, and Touchstone Natural Gas.

DeJoira was born into a poor family and never made it to college. He attended John Marshall High School. John started his first company, John Paul Mitchell Systems with a $700 loan and was living in a car.


They dropped out of college and now they are some of the world’s richest people. These billionaires are a great inspiration to each one of us. You might not be very good in school or you might not have a college degree but you could be good at something else.

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