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14 Tech Superstars Who Didn't Need College To Become Billionaires

For most students, early September means back-to-school time.

But that’s not the case for everyone, especially in the tech industry.

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel, for example, is paying $US100,000 for kids to drop out of school and start their own companies.

Thiel has a point: Some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs have racked up billions of dollars without ever finishing college.

Whether to skip college or not is totally up to you. But if you’re one of those thinking about it, this will serve as inspiration.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Company: Microsoft

School: Harvard

Net worth: $US81 billion

Bill Gates started college at Harvard in 1973, but dropped out two years later to found Microsoft. His co-founder, Paul Allen, went to the same high school as Gates.

Gates remained Microsoft's CEO until 2000, when he stepped down to take on the Chairman role. Now, he serves as a technology advisor to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, while focusing on his charity work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2007, Gates received an honorary degree from Harvard, when he also delivered the commencement speech.

Michael Dell

Michael Dell

Company: Dell Computer

School: University of Texas at Austin

Net worth: $US18.8 billion

Michael Dell was a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin when he decided drop out. He was a biology major, but computers were what really got him excited at school.

In 1984, Dell founded Dell Computer Corp. and turned it into a multi-billion dollar computer empire over the next 30 years.

Dell became the youngest CEO of a company ever to make the Fortune 500 list in 1992.

He took Dell private in a deal worth $US24.9 billion in 2013, and currently serves as the company's Chairman and CEO.

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Company: Facebook

School: Harvard

Net worth: $US34 billion

Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in his sophomore year to focus on running Facebook. The 30-year old has remained the company's CEO/Chairman since its founding in 2004.

Facebook went public in 2012 and is now worth over $US200 billion.

It had 1.32 billion monthly active users as of June 2014, and had over $US7.8 billion in revenue last year.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Company: Apple

School: Reed College

Net worth: $US6.5 to 7 billion (as of 2011)

Jobs left Reed College to start Apple in his garage back in 1974. With Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs revolutionised the computer, music, and mobile industries.

At the time of his death, Jobs estimated net worth was around $US7 billion.

But money wasn't his priority, as he once said, 'Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful … that's what matters to me.'

Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey

Company: Twitter, Square

School: NYU

Net worth: $US2.6 billion

Dorsey is one of the founding members of Twitter, and the founder and CEO of Square.

He went to college at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, before transferring to NYU, where he dropped out to start Twitter.

Dorsey now owns about 5% of Twitter's outstanding shares and serves as its Chairman. He's also on the board of Disney.

Paul Allen

Paul Allen

Company: Microsoft

School: Washington State University

Net worth: $US16.3 billion

Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. They went to the same high school at Lakeside School.

He went to college at Washington State University but dropped out after two years to become a programmer for Honeywell.

He's currently the owner of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, NBA's Portland Trailblazers, and part-owner of the MLS' Seattle Sounders FC.

Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison

Company: Oracle

School: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Chicago

Net worth: $US51.1 billion

Ellison is the co-founder and CEO of Oracle, the multi-billion dollar enterprise software company.

He left UIUC in his sophomore year, after his adoptive mother died. The next semester he enrolled in University of Chicago, but dropped out again after just one semester.

In 1977, he co-founded a company called Software Development Labs, which was later renamed Oracle. Ellison is the only person to have ever served as Oracle's CEO.

Sean Parker

Sean Parker

Company: Plaxo, Napster, Airtime

School: Chantilly High School

Net worth: $US3.2 billion

Parker never even went to college, yet is one of the most successful serial entrepreneurs.

He's the co-founder of the music sharing service Napster, and later served as Facebook's first president.

Parker was also involved in the founding of companies like Plaxo and Airtime. Currently, he's a partner at Peter Thiel's investment firm, The Founders Fund, and board members of Spotify and Yammer.

Jan Koum

Jan Koum

Company: WhatsApp

School: San Jose State University

Net worth: $US7.6 billion

Jan Koum is the creator of WhatsApp, the mobile messaging startup that was acquired by Facebook in 2014.

Koum was a maths and computer science major at San Jose State University, before he dropped out to work at Yahoo. He worked at Yahoo for nine years until 2007.

Koum reportedly made $US6.8 billion when Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $US19 billion.

Dustin Moskovitz

Dustin Moskovitz with Mark Zuckerberg

Company: Facebook, Asana

School: Harvard

Net worth: $US8.1 billion

Moskovitz was a sophomore at Harvard, majoring in economics, when he first met Mark Zuckerberg, the founder/CEO of Facebook. They were roommates and quickly became good friends.

He later became the first employee of Facebook and played a major role in turning it into the largest social network in the world.

He left Facebook to launch Asana, an enterprise software company, in 2008. He said being part of the founding of Facebook was the 'dumbest luck in the world' in a recent interview.

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Company: Nintendo

School: Waseda University

Net worth: $US2.1 billion (as of 2013)

Yamauchi was the third president of Nintendo, a position he kept for 55 years before retiring in 2005.

He is largely credited for transforming Nintendo from a small card-making company to a dominant video game powerhouse.

He dropped out of Waseda University to take over Nintendo, a family business his grandfather had found in 1889.

Yamauchi died in 2013 at the age of 85.

Gabe Newell

Gabe Newell

Company: Valve Corporation

School: Harvard

Net worth: $US1.3 billion

Newell is the co-founder of Valve Corporation, a video game company most famous for the sci-fi game, Half Life.

Before Valve, Newell worked at Microsoft for 13 years. He says he was the 'producer of the first three releases of Windows.'

Like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Newell is also a Harvard dropout. He once said in an interview that all he learned at Harvard was 'how to drink beer while doing a headstand in a snow.'

Now that we've seen billionaire college dropouts...

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