10. John Mackey
John Mackey studied religion and philosophy at the University of Texas before dropping out, borrowing $45,000, and starting a health food store called SaferWay in downtown Austin. Mackey grew his business into what is now organic grocery behemoth Whole Foods.
9. Travis Kalanick
Before becoming the CEO and founder of Uber, Travis Kalanick studied computer engineering at UCLA. Kalanick decided to quit college just months before graduating to work for now-defunct peer-to-peer search engine Scour.
8. Jan Koum
Immigrant entrepreneur Jan Koum worked his way through college only to quit before graduating. He would go on to work for Yahoo, and then to invent the incredibly popular messaging application WhatsApp.
7. Larry Ellison
Today, Larry Ellison is known as a software billionaire and founder of Oracle. When he was growing up, however, his adoptive parents encouraged him to be a doctor.
He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chicago, but struggled with his medical courses and dropped out. Today he is worth over $55 billion.
6. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, founded Facebook and became the 5th wealthiest man alive. According to the book “The Facebook Effect,” it took him just five minutes to make the decision to quit college.
5. Evan Williams
Evan Williams grew up in Clarks, Nebraska, where his family ran a farm. He attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for three semesters before dropping out.
Williams was a freelance software programmer for Hewlett-Packard and Intel before landing a gig at Google. He later quit his job at Google to build Twitter and became a billionaire.
4. Bill Gates
Bill Gates attended Harvard for two years before leaving to build what would become Microsoft. The Harvard Crimson describes him as “Harvard’s most successful dropout,” and today he is the wealthiest person on the planet.
3. Julian Assange
Before he was a controversial computer hacker, Julian Assange studied mathematics at the University of Melbourne. The Aussie WikiLeaks founder showed early indications of his anti-establishment ideals when he dropped out at the age of 19 over objections to the practice of students working on computer projects for the Australian military.
2. Steve Jobs
The founder of Apple left Reed College when he was just 19, reportedly because it was too much of a financial burden for his family. Despite his short tenure at Reed, Jobs still found his time there valuable. In a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, he credited a Reed calligraphy course for providing the inspiration for the typography he used on the first Mac.