Thanks in part to its proximity to nearly every major tech company you could think of, Stanford University has become a sort of incubator for Silicon Valley itself.
Some of tech’s most important figures have attended classes here, from Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard to Marissa Mayer and Peter Thiel.
But Stanford’s campus is also known for being a great place to launch a new company, with top-notch engineering and business programs, an extensive alumni network, and even university-affiliated accelerator programs. Most of the Valley’s most successful companies have some roots here, including Google, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and Yahoo.
It makes sense that the California school was named the Best College In America.
We’ve highlighted some of the most successful startups to be born on Stanford’s campus in the last two decades.
After graduating in 2006 with a degree in management science and engineering, Kevin Systrom started developing a location-based photo-sharing app. When he realised he needed a cofounder, he turned to the Stanford network and found Mike Krieger, a Brazilian native who graduated with a degree in symbolic systems two years after Systrom.
'When people say that college isn't worthwhile and paying all this money isn't worthwhile, I really disagree,' Systrom said to Forbes. 'I think those experiences and those classes that may not necessarily seem applicable in the moment end up coming back to you time and time again.'
Systrom and Krieger sold Instagram to Facebook for $US1 billion in April of 2012.
Flint and Inkinen were inspired to create Trulia when they saw how difficult it was to find a place to live in Palo Alto. They developed their real estate aggregation site during two semesters in Stanford's competitive 'Startup Garage' class.
The Monday after graduation, they had lined up meetings with several VCs interested in funding their company.
Eric Baker and Jeff Fluhr met in a class at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. After sharing stories of the problems they had had selling event tickets online, they entered a competition with the business plan for a company they called needaticket.com. After the plan made the final round, they pulled out of the competition, and in 2000, Fluhr dropped out of school to work on the company full-time.
Baker and Fluhr used Stanford computer labs and classrooms to build their site, now a major player in secondary ticket sales for sports and entertainment events.
The company was bought by eBay for $US300 million in 2007.
The location-based app was created by Sam Altman, Nick Sivo, and Alok Deshpande, who met during their second year in school. They left Stanford soon after to get to work building their app.
Loopt was bought by Green Dot Corporation for $US43.4 million in 2012, and Altman now works as president of top tech incubator Y Combinator.
He'll be returning to Stanford this fall, leading a class called 'How to Start a Startup', with big-name tech executives like Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Ron Conway, and Marissa Mayer joining for weekly lectures.
Both students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Spaly and Dunn founded Bonobos as a way to improve online shopping for men. Company lore has it that Spaly sewed the prototype for the first Bonobos pants in the house the two lived in near campus.
'Formation of New Ventures, Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital, and Product Market Fit,' Spaly said to the Graduate School of Business' news service. 'All are comically relevant to what I've done in the last handful of years.'
Snapchat cofounders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy lived across the hall from each other in Stanford's Kappa Sigma fraternity house.
'We weren't cool,' Murphy told Forbes. 'So we tried to build things to be cool.'
Snapchat now reportedly has 100 million users and is close to finishing a $US20 million fundraising round at a $US10 billion valuation.
Ng has bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees in computer science from Stanford. During his doctorate research, he began researching the light-field technology that would eventually become the highly successful Lytro camera.
Ng's company got a boost when he met Manu Kumar, founder of K9 Ventures and a fellow Stanford engineering alumnus.
'I met Manu at an all-day celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Stanford's computer science department,' Ng told the news service for Stanford's School of Engineering. 'I showed him the camera and the software and he slid a check across the table.'
Their 'Launchpad' product design class started on the same day in 2010 that Apple announced the iPad, and Gupta and Kothari saw an opportunity to develop for a format that no other programmers had breached.
Just a few months later, Steve Jobs himself highlighted Pulse as one of the premier apps available for the iPad during his WWDC keynote. In April of 2013, LinkedIn purchased Pulse for $US90 million, with the plan to make use of the startup's many content partnerships.
This online-learning platform was created by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, two professors in Stanford's computer science department.
The idea for Coursera evolved out of an extremely popular machine learning class Ng taught in 2011. Out of 104,000 people enrolled online, more than 46,000 completed at least one homework assignment, and 13,000 received a 'statement of accomplishment,' according to AllThingsD.
Now Coursera offers more than 600 free courses and has seven million registered students. Ng was recently hired as chief scientist at Baidu Research, while Koller has stayed on as president of Coursera. The company continues to receive millions in funding.
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